CATHOLIC WORLD LAST WEEK
8-14 Apr, 2019
Pope’s lesson on suffering, war, culture of encounter
Pope Francis on Saturday April 6 received a delegation of students, teachers and parents of San Carlo Institute, a high school in Milan, Italy, on the occasion of its 150th anniversary. The Pope engaged in a Q&A session, responding to their queries off the cuff.
To a question from a student whether God is partial since there are people suffering and in abject poverty.
The Pope said that questions such as why children suffer, don’t and won’t have answers. “They are questions that will never be answered but by asking them we will grow up and become adults with restlessness in our hearts.” Regarding suffering in the world, the Pope said it is not God who is partial but we. It is we who create differences, including indifference, pain and poverty-we create an unjust economic system, he said.
To a question from a teacher as to how we can transmit our culture, the Pope said,” We are born in a family and we belong to a people; patriotism is more about belonging to a land, a history, a culture. But we must grow with “multiethnicity” and “multiculturalism.” Migrants are not criminals; they bring us riches. But if we build walls against migrants, we will end up as slaves inside the walls we have built. Jesus was a migrants and Europeans too have been migrants.” The Pope also lamented a growing culture of indifference in the western world.
Church Cautious as India Heads for National Elections 8-4-19
Amid pollsters forecasting an edge for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to retain power in India’s forthcoming 17th national election, the Church is treading a cautious approach.
The pastoral letter that Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), issued in mid-March for the election contains no mention of the widespread criticism of actions and rhetoric undertaken against religious minorities during the five-year tenure of the BJP regime led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The pastoral letter stresses the duty of voters to exercise their franchise in the April 11-May 19 polling, which takes place in seven phases. “We need leaders in India who … work for an economy that seeks specially to help the poor and underprivileged, protecting their dignity,” Cardinal Gracias stated in the pastoral letter.
Despite the overriding caution in his pastoral letter, Cardinal Gracias is “hopeful” that voters will express their concerns through the protracted polls — the result of which will be announced with the counting scheduled for May 23.
In fact, the pastoral letter, with its stand on the election, in which more than 900 million people are eligible to vote, provides little opportunity for the vociferous Hindu nationalist media to demonize the Christian community. The letter will be translated into more than a dozen languages and read in churches across the country in coming weeks.
It makes no mention of how the BJP regime has attracted criticism for ignoring regular assaults on minorities and on critics of its policies, which has generating unprecedented intolerance and insecurity over the last five years, according to observers.
Despite his caution about speaking out directly regarding such attacks on the Church, Cardinal Gracias minced no words in characterizing the Modi regime as “pro-business and anti-poor.”
Be transformed by Christ and do good, Pope tells German Franciscan charity 6-4-19
On April 6, Pope Francis spoke with members of the Missionszentrale der Franziskaner, a charity organization, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of its founding.
Address them the Pontiff said, “Saint Francis of Assisi has always been an example to you: he wished to live poor and to let himself be touched by the poverty of the people. Your missionary centre has been able to weave a worldwide network of charity, solidarity and fraternity.”
The Pope said that faced with current challenges, we must make greater efforts for a good future for all. He wished that their missionary Centre may continue to give its valuable contribution, first and foremost with the witness of their life and their faith!
Council of Cardinals holding 29th working session 8-4-18
The Council of Cardinals is holding its 29th meeting this week, with sessions running from Monday through Wednesday. The Council is working to finalize a draft of a new apostolic constitution defining the responsibilities of the Roman Curia.
Vatican moves several candidates closer to beatification 8-4-19
The Congregagtion for the Causes of Saints has moved several candidates closer to beatification, with a series of decrees issued on April 6. The decrees confirmed a miracle through the intercession of Donizetti Tavares de Lima (1882—1961), a Brazilian priest; and testified to the “heroic virtues” displayed by:
Carlo Cavina (1820-1880), an Italian priest, Raffaele da Sant’Elia a Pianisi (1816-1901), an Italian Capuchin priest, Damiano da Bozzano (1898—1997), a Brazilian Capuchin priest, Victorin Nymphas Arnaud Pagés (1885—1966), a French religious who died in Puerto Rico, Consolata Betrone (1903—1964), an Italian Poor Clare religious, Nelson Santana (1955—1964), a Brazilian who died in childhood and Gaetana Tolomeo (1936—1997), an Italian lay woman.
Catholic University students vote to block porn sites 7-4-19
Students at The Catholic University of America have asked the administration to ban the top 200 pornography websites from its internet system.
The call came in a petition and resolution passed by the university’s Student Government Association and signed by its student body president on Monday, April 1.
Vatican hosts workshop on nonviolence 7-4-19
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Pax Christi International’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative concluded a workshop on the theme: “Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace”.
The primary purpose of the two-day workshop was to confirm the commitment to nonviolence and peace on the part of the Church, faith leaders, and peace practitioners.
A statement issued at the conclusion of the session, held on April 4th and 5th in the Vatican, describes how “participants engaged in dialogue about the roots of violence, the hope for peace and reconciliation, and reflected on paths to a conversion to nonviolence. They noted that nonviolence is not only a method but a way of life, a way to protect and care for the conditions of life for today and tomorrow”.
Asia - The President of Caritas Asia: "Reviewing the lifestyle for the care of Creation and humanity" 8-4-19
"The peoples of Asia are called to review their lifestyle by following criteria of respect and care for creation": says Benedetto Alo D'Rozario, new president of Caritas Asia, who has just begun his mandate as the first layman to preside over the solidarity organization which is an expression of the Catholic Church.
"Mother Earth, which sustains our lives, suffers because of the damage we inflict on her with our unrestrained abuse of the goods God has given her. We are not respecting the rights of nature because we are guided primarily by our greed. Asia dies because of the tragic consequences of uncontrolled human activity, all aimed at satisfying greed,” says D’Rozario.
Pakistan - Protecting the rights of religious minorities: a challenge for the future 8-4-19
"Religious minorities must not marginalize themselves, but be an integral part of it; thus they will be able to see their fundamental rights protected": says Kashif Anthony, coordinator of the Catholic Commission "Justice and Peace" (NCJP) of the archdiocese of Karachi. He adds: "We must promote a joint electoral system, not based on religious affiliation, so as to be citizens on a par with others: this is the solution and the way to achieve respect for our fundamental rights". In a seminar held in recent days in Karachi, organized by the Commission on "Rights of religious minorities and future perspectives", over 130 delegates of various faiths (Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs) shared their reflections in this regard.
Kashif Anthony remarked: "Currently every political party in Pakistan has a specific group dedicated to religious minorities: it is time to ask political parties to abolish these 'sections for minorities' and integrate non-Muslim citizens into parties", concludes Kashif Anthony.
Chile - From the youth of Santiago the impulse to promote the missionary experience 8-4-19
"It is a great missionary project, with which we try to reach all the young people of the parishes who want to share a missionary experience. We know that mission changes life, the perspective of faith and, above all, is an authentic encounter with Christ". With these words Rubén Leal, a young man from the diocese of San Bernardo, describes "Alégrate" ("Rejoice"), the project promoted by the Archdiocese of Santiago, which aims to promote the missionary experience among the youth of the parishes and ecclesial movements.
Barbara Salas of San Luis Beltrán parish and member of the board of directors as Rubén says,”There are people from parishes, movements, professors, pastoral workers ... the project is open to all Catholics who want to make a big change".
Bishop Cristián Roncagliolo, Auxiliary of Santiago and Vicar of the "Young Hope", which follows this great evangelization project, specifies that the idea of giving substance to this initiative strengthened after the World Youth Day in Panama, in January. "The fundamental concern - he affirms - is how to go from a diocesan mission to a great mission".
Missionaries ignore threats as they aid poor Filipinos 8-4-19
The Church's work with farmers and tribal people "in promoting human rights and the fulfillment of human dignity" has angered some sectors of society, says Sister Emma Cupin, regional coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. She said many of the organization's staff have become targets of "harassment and intimidation." Sister Cupin, who belongs to the Missionary Sisters of Mary congregation, said they would continue to serve the poor "despite repeated attacks by those threatened by the voices of the oppressed."
In recent months, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines has been tagged as a front organization for the communist rebels, along with several other church groups. In February, leaflets were distributed in the southern city of Cagayan de Oro tagging 19 individuals as "terrorist members of the New People's Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines." One of those who made the list was Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church, who accuses the military establishment of "perpetuating and sustaining the harassment and intimidation to hinder the work of church workers and rights advocates for the oppressed."
Sister Elenita Belardo, national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, described the "red tagging" as "alarming." "It can be used as a justification to go after priests, sisters, and lay workers who live out their Christian commitment among the rural poor," said the nun. She said there seems to be a grand plan to vilify her organization. On Feb. 21, the Philippines' National Security Council submitted documents to the United Nations complaining of alleged atrocities committed by communist guerrillas and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines is included among the communist guerillas three front organisations.
Church helps Vietnam's poor Catholics against loan sharks 8-4-19
Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister Mary Nguyen Thi Phuc of Vietnam has managed a savings and credit program for poor women, people with HIV/AIDS and former sex workers in the central province of Khanh Hoa for 10 years, who would otherwise go to loan sharks for money and suffer for life as debtors. The poor say they are paying a high price for borrowing money from loan sharks. “I pray to God to give me good health so that I can work hard to get enough money to pay off the debts,” says one of them.
Sister Phuc admitted that the lending scheme fails when many participants go bankrupt while others move to other places without repaying the money. Sister Phuc said the program, funded by benefactors, loans women 5-7 million dong each to sell food on streets, raise poultry, grow crops or buy motorbikes to carry passengers for a living. She said borrowers have to repay the loans in 10 months with a 5 percent interest rate and save 100,000 to 150,000 dong each month for themselves. The program used to involve more than 100 women from five parishes but now has only a dozen from one parish.
A parish priest from Yen Bai province said some lay Catholics borrow money from priests to do business but few of them repay loans. He said parishes have no funds to support poor people to improve their lives or to repay debts.
UN condemns Myanmar military for attacks on civilians 8-4-19
A United Nations official has condemned attacks directed at civilians in Rakhine State, warning they could be considered crimes of war. The ethnicities affected are Rakhine, Rohingya, Chin, Mro and Daignet,
Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman from the U.N.’s Human Rights Office, said the international organization was deeply disturbed by the intensification of the conflict in the state over recent weeks.
Indian Christians look to Supreme Court for religious freedom 8-4-19
Christian leaders and activists in India are pinning hopes on the Supreme Court to set aside guidelines made by a state court on individuals changing religion.
India’s top court on April 5 postponed hearing a petition of Christian leaders that challenged the guidelines of Rajasthan high court, saying the directions violate religious freedom guaranteed in the constitution. The court postponed the hearing after the federal government said it needed more time to offer a response to the petition.
Christian leaders took up the case after the Rajasthan court on Dec. 14 last year passed general guidelines in restricting conversions. The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition regarding a Hindu girl who married a Muslim, presumably after changing her religion to Islam. The court directed, among other things, that a person desirous of changing religion should inform the district’s top government official, who would publicize it for a week. “Only after a week's time, anyone converting for purpose of marriage can do so,” said the court.
The directions violate the freedom of religion, equality before law and personal liberty guaranteed to all Indian citizens without any discrimination based on religion, caste, age or gender, say Christian human rights advocates.
New Vatican norms for Anglican ordinariates 9-4-19
in 2009 Benedict XVI signed the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus on the institution of personal Ordinariates for Anglicans who enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, in response to requests from some Anglican groups who wished to be received, also corporately, in full Catholic communion. Currently, there exist three Ordinariates: Our Lady of Walsingham in England, the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States of America, and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.
The new version of the complementary norms released on April 9 has integrated some suggestions and theological indications, both ecumenical and in relation to canon law, as decided by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope Francis.
Indian bishop to face rape charges 9-4-19
Indian prosecutors have formally charged Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar with rape. The bishop, who was arrested last year and later released on bail, is cited for multiple counts of rape; the alleged victim is a Catholic nun. Bishop Mulakkal has insisted that he is innocent.
Former sostituto suggests fines for Vatican leaks 9-4-19
Cardinal Angelo Becciu has suggested financial penalties for those who violate the secrecy of Vatican communications. Cardinal Becciu, who is now prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, previously served as the sostituto, handling most of the paperwork of the Roman Curia. In a new book-length interview, he said that the “Vatileaks” scandals were the “fruit of frustrations, jealousies, revenge and for some also of business aims.”
Leading Vatican diplomat critiques gender identity, gender ideology 9-4-19
“To substitute gender identity or expression for biological sex has enormous ramifications,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said in a recent talk. “For that reason, we must, with courtesy and compassion, ask the perhaps uncomfortable questions, because the answers matter.”
More than 2,800 baptisms in the Church of Hong Kong at Easter 9-4-19
The Church of Hong Kong is preparing to welcome more than 2,800 new Christians, who will be baptised for Easter.
Starting on 24 March and in the last three Sundays of Lent, the bishop examined the journey of faith of the catechumens in eight ceremonies of scrutiny held across the diocese. On the first of the three Sundays, a total of 1,720 catechumens (mostly adults), godparents and catechists took part in two ceremonies of scrutiny at the St Francis of Assisi’s Church, in Shek Kip Mei.
Fr Giorgio Pasini, regional superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in the former British colony, said that the ceremonies of scrutiny are "heartfelt moments" for the Church of Hong Kong. "The catechumens are numerous and already very active in the life of the community. This year, the large number of baptisms will also enhance the vitality of the local Church.”
Bishops say no-fault divorce in U.K. undermines marriage from outset 9-4-19
In the first major overhaul of U.K. divorce law for 50 years, the British government announced April 9 that it would allow couples to split up simply by filing a statement to say the marriage had broken down irretrievably.
An application can be made by just one of the spouses, and the other spouse will not have a right to legally contest the divorce if they disagree with it.
The plans include a “cooling off” period of six months to allow spouses to reconsider any decision to break up.
But in an April 9 statement, Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, speaking on behalf of the English and Welsh bishops, said the introduction of “no-fault” divorces in the United Kingdom will undermine marriages from the outset.
French saint’s 150-year-old heart being venerated in New York City 9-4-19
The 150-year-old heart of a French saint is on a U.S. tour — a Roman Catholic relic with New York City as its latest stop.
St John Maria Vianney was on display on April 6 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, where both the faithful and the curious lined up to see the human organ behind glass. The Knights of Columbus fraternity is sponsoring the pilgrimage of this heart, which has been to 28 states so far, with more coming up.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was to lead a Sunday procession venerating the heart of Saint John Vianney, who was a priest in the southern French town of Ars, outside Lyon. He lived during the French Revolution, helping to hide priests on the run.
Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests, famed for hearing confessions for endless hours with an ear so understanding that he drew Catholics from all around Europe. “He would also recount to them the sins they left out, because he instinctively felt who they are,” says Joseph Cullen, a member of the Knights of Columbus. “But he had a heart of gold.”
The relic is to return to its permanent home at a French shrine in Ars in early June. The U.S. tour began in November.
Brazil - Four priorities to elaborate the National Mission Programme 9-4-19
Missionary formation, mission ad gentes, missionary animation, prophetic social comittment : these four priorities identified by the 36th assembly of the National Mission Council (COMINA), 4 - 7 April in Brasilia, at the head offices of the Pontifical Mission Societies, will be taken into consideration for the National Mission Programme.
According to information issued by the Bishops' Conference, COMINA continues to work on the text to present to the May assembly of the Brazilian Catholic Bishops Conference (CNBB). For each priority, three projects intend to help reawaken missionary activity in the Church in Brazil, not only in the cases regarding mission specifically.
Rwanda - Mission is “the authentic encounter with Jesus Christ ”: 25 years after the genocide 9-4-19
“Unless the Gospel touches the heart, it fails to bring about in-depth change in the person, it is simply superficial and understood only in material terms of prosperity and miracles, a nation can be almost 90% Christian as in the case of Rwanda, with churches overflowing, but at the same time with ruthless men and women ready to kill one another with the machete”: Fr Donald Zagore, a theologian missionary, a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA), said this while reflecting on the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide which falls this year (1994-2019).
“We must acknowledge with humility – he says– that the Rwandan genocide revealed the failure of evangelization in Africa. Condemning the early practice of some missionaries offering money, the theologian concluded, Conversion means an encounter with Jesus Christ. The salvation of Africa lies not in the money of the missionaries or the gospel of prosperity but in Jesus Christ. The enormous challenge for missionary activity today in Africa is to lead our Christian communities to an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ”.
Algeria - Peaceful protests, the people of Algeria become “actor of change for the future” 9-4-19
“Demonstrations taking place are peaceful. Even the people are surprised at the serenity of the action. Society desires and demands a new future”. Graziella Rapacioli, Caritas Algeria secretary general, reports thus on the social and political situation in Algeria. For two months now the country has seen massive demonstrations in the streets. Initially the demonstrators opposed the re-candidacy of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika who, although in office for 20 years and a sick man, had announced his desire to re-candidate himself in the May elections. However continuing demonstrations forced Bouteflika to withdraw from the electoral race. Nevertheless, protests continue. Every Friday the people take to the streets demanding renewal of the entire political class.
“What is astonishing is the composure and peaceful attitude with which Algerians are living this delicate moment of change. Algerians are calling for serious change: on this point they refuse to be dissuaded,” says Rapacioli.
Indian police protect convent, school following mob attacks 9-4-19
Police are protecting a Catholic convent and a school two weeks after mobs attacked and injured several people, including four nuns, in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state.
Indian bishops on April 6 appealed to political leaders in New Delhi and Tamil Nadu "to deal sternly" with criminals who attacked the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and its Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem town on March 25-26.
“All the injured nuns are back from hospital now but police continue to guard the school and convent,” the congregation’s provincial superior, Sister Devaseer Mary, said on April 7.
Mobs attacked the school and convent after a grade 10 student committed suicide in the school hostel on the afternoon of March 25, hours after she had taken her mathematics exam after expressing fears of failing it.
Local police officer N. Ramanathan said that the violence began after the school management refused to entertain a demand for 1 million rupees (US$14,250) in compensation. The school has paid 50,000 rupees for the funeral expenses of the student on “humanitarian grounds.”
The next day about 200 people armed with sharp weapons, iron rods and wooden batons entered the compound. They attacked the convent, its chapel, school offices and staff in what appeared to be an organized criminal plan. They beat up nuns and school staff, destroyed furniture, windows, computers and shelves in the school office, and desecrated the chapel.
School management suspect the involvement of some pro-Hindu groups in organizing the attack, but refused to name any.
“There was involvement of a political party, and we are still living in fear. Police have provided some security for now, but we need it to continue until the situation becomes normal,” Sister Devaseer said.
Mindanao diocese bemoans election campaign racket 9-4-19
A Catholic diocese on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have called for election candidates to stop or turn down their “ear-splitting” campaign jingles in the run-up to national and local elections on May 13 elections.
Father Ariel Destora, Social Action Center director of Marbel Diocese, slammed the "noise pollution" caused by sound systems — mostly blaring from vehicles — used by candidates. He said the din from roving sound systems that play campaign ditties are even disrupting the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
The priest said whoever operates them and candidates should respect places of worship.
Members of the diocese social action office have been urging voters to vote for candidates who will work for the "common good," and who are "competent, credible and compassionate."
Young Indonesian Catholics told not to waste chance to vote 9-4-19
The Indonesian bishops’ conference and other church organizations have called young Catholics not to spurn their chance to vote in upcoming presidential and legislative elections on April 17.
It is feared many Catholic’s, especially young ones, will not bother voting and go on holiday during Holy Week which coincides with the polls. The call was made to least 1,800 Catholics who attended a gathering called “Millennial Festival” jointly organized by the bishops’ commissions for the laity, for youth and for education as well as five church organizations including the Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals (ISKA) in Jakarta on April 6.
Council of Cardinals completes draft of new document on Roman Curia 10-4-19
The Council of Cardinals has completed the draft of a new apostolic constitution that will define the responsibilities of the Roman Curia. The document, to be entitled Praedicate Evangelium, will now be circulated for comments and suggestions, with copies sent to presidents of episcopal conferences, conferences of religious superiors, synods of the Eastern churches, and other Church leaders.
Chinese faithful block police from razing Marian shrine 10-4-19
Chinese Catholics in the Taibai district have surrounded a Marian shrine, hoping to thwart plans by police to demolish the sanctuary. The shrine is located in Fengxiang province, where earlier this month police razed a parish. Government authorities in the province are pressing all Catholics to join the Patriotic Association.
‘Forgive us our trespasses’ is theme of Pope’s general audience 10-4-19
Continuing his explanation of the ‘Our Father’ Pope Francis at the Wednesday General Audience dealt with “Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Here are his words in English:
In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider how Jesus teaches us to ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Mt 6:12). Just as we need bread, so we have need of forgiveness. Every day! In the original Greek of Matthew’s Gospel, the word used for ‘trespasses’ carries the meaning of being in debt, and so Christians pray asking that God will forgive their debts. We are truly in debt to God because everything we have has come as a gift from him: our life, parents, friends, creation itself. Likewise, we are only capable of loving because we have been loved first; we are able to forgive only because we ourselves have received forgiveness. How can we not recognise, in the bonds of love that precede us, the providential presence of God’s love? None of us can love God as he has loved us. We need only gaze at a crucifix to realize this. Let us pray, then, that even the holiest in our midst will never cease to be in debt to the Lord. O Father, have mercy on us all!
Bishop urges Filipinos in Libya to leave 10-4-19
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People is urging Filipinos in Libya to consider returning home amid the escalating clashes there. The Libyan Civil War has intensified in recent days with the western Libya offensive.
“The situation is Libya is uncertain, volatile and unstable. Their stay is not secured, and their work is not stable,” CBCP ECMI Chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos said in an interview.
Pope Emeritus Benedict breaks silence, writes article on sex-abuse scandal 10-4-19
“In the first part, I aim to present briefly the wider social context of the question, without which the problem cannot be understood,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes. “I try to show that in the 1960s an egregious event occurred, on a scale unprecedented in history ... In the second part, I aim to point out the effects of this situation on the formation of priests and on the lives of priests. Finally, in the third part, I would like to develop some perspectives for a proper response on the part of the Church.”
Eritrea - When assigning funds the "European Union must guarantee respect for freedom and human rights" 10-4-19
The Europea Union has a duty to control the use of funds assigned to Eritrea, because the money given by the EU may fund forced labour. This observation comes from the Eritrean Foundation for Human Rights (FHRE) and the Habeshia Agency who say that to build roads from Eritrean ports of Massaua and Assab to the border with Ethiopia, there is a danger that minors may be involved in 'so called' never ending unpaid 'national service', in situations of semi slavery.
Official national service in Eritrea now last for an indefinite period; abuse-forcedlabour- of young men in the army has been denounced by Opposition leaders in exile and human rights groups regarding the authorities of Asmara. There is a danger that EU money given to improve roads (20 million euro) as part of efforts to "reduce illegal migration", involves using these young men. They ought to be paid as per rules.
Abba Mussie Zerai, a priest of the Asmara Eparchy and representing Habeshia Agency , says; "It is difficult to imagine real peace in Eritrea, without the vital components of freedom and respect for human rights, without, that is, a vast operation of truth and justice regarding events in the last 20 years."
India - Christians pray for peaceful elections and the good of the nation 10-4-19
In view of the next general elections which starts 11 April, India's Christians are praying that a peaceful and transparent vote may bring "well-being and harmony" for the future of the country. Involved as citizens, at least 5,000 Indian Christians, including bishops, clergy and Christian faithful of various confessions joined recently in the capital Delhi to pray for the nation .
Catholic archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto, who leads the archdiocese of Delhi, urged the faithful present "to fast and pray for the good of the country ", and expressed the hope that the people "will choose leaders with great vision for the development of society and the nation and asked them to work for good of humanity". "We pray to God that peace and harmony may prevail in India", said the archbishop. Under Mr Narendra Modi’s government, Christians and Muslims all over the country have experienced attacks of violence often organised by nationalist Hindus.
India's Christians comprise 2.3% (about 28 million) of the total population of 1.3 billion.
Jordan- King Abdallah II: Christians are an “integral part of the tissue of the Arab world" 10-4-19
"Christians are an “integral part of the tissue of the Arab world,” and Jordan intends to continue its commitment to safeguarding ecclesiastical properties. This was strongly affirmed by King Abdallah II of Jordan, when on 10 April in Amman he received Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Orthodox Syriac Patriarch of Antioch. King Abdallah, in the meeting with the Primate of the Syrian Orthodox Church, underlined that the Hashemite Monarchy will also continue to play its historic role in the protection and care of the Islamic and Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem.
Jordan Christians have never raised objection of principle regarding the Islamic legitimization of the institutional structure limiting themselves to benefiting from the “moderate” application of the Koranic rules on the part of the Jordan Royalty. Islam is the state religion but the Constitution of 1952 sanctioned equality of all Jordanians before the law with no discrimination based on «race, discipline or religion». Jordan guarantees «freedom of expression for all forms of worship and religion in keeping with the customs observed in Jordan», and also freedom of teaching.
Asia Bibi still in Pakistan, PM Khan says 10-4-19
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Asia Bibi remains in the country, negating speculation that she had already joined her family in Canada.
Khan told the BBC in an interview published online on April 10 that Bibi was still in Pakistan because there was “a little bit of a complication” which he declined to explain. "But I can assure you she is safe, and she will be leaving in weeks," Khan said during the interview conducted in London.
The Catholic mother of five had been on death row for blasphemy since 2010 and was held in solitary confinement for eight years. In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of Pakistan quashed her death sentence in November last year and ordered her immediate release from prison.
Indian Catholics accuse bishop of selling church land 10-4-19
A group of Catholics in a southern Indian diocese have accused their bishop and a priest of selling off prime church property, causing massive financial loss, but the bishop dismissed the claim as an attempt to tarnish him.
Bishop Anthony Swamy Thomasappa of Chikmagalur and his former vicar general, Father Shantha Raj, teamed up to take ownership of two plots of land worth 180 million rupees (US$2.4 million) at a cheaper value, lay leaders told media on April 6.
Stanley D’Silva, a lay Catholic who spearheads the protest said they have documented proof to show that the bishop and priest sold off a plot of prime land of St. Joseph Education Society for 21 million rupees. The land is worth 90 million rupees at market rates, he said. They also accused the bishop of misusing the income from another piece of land and taking ownership of it from the diocese. They complained to the papal nuncio to India, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, on April 4, said Michael Sadanda Baptist, a member of St. Joseph Education Society, which functions under the diocese.
The bishop said his former vicar general, Fr Shantha Raj, made a verbal agreement with a prospective buyer to sell the land “but he was not authorized to do that.” Some money was transferred to the society but the society returned the money to the prospective buyer and “unanimously decided not to sell the land at all,” the bishop said, reiterating that “no deal was executed.”
Nicaraguan bishop to leave country after death threats 11-4-19
Bishop Silvio Baez Ortega, an auxiliary of the Managua archdiocese, will leave Nicaragua after Easter, having received death threats. The bishop revealed that Pope Francis has asked him to come to Rome, as violence escalates in Nicaragua and critics of President Daniel Ortega flee. Bishop Baez, who has spoken out against the Ortega regime, has been warned by US diplomats that he is targeted for assassination.
Meanwhile, it is reported that many priests have been forced to leave the country, “We cannot remain unmoved when people burst in during Mass because [the Ortega regime’s soldiers] are killing them,” a priest said. “Because the army and police aren’t throwing sweets at them. They are shooting to kill, aiming at people’s heads, their backs and their chests.”
Pope condemns human trafficking, ‘all forms of contempt’ against other humans 11-4-19
Speaking on April 11 to participants in an international conference on human trafficking, Pope Francis said that the crime is “an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of the victims,” and therefore rightly classified as a “crime against humanity.” He said that the same condemnation could be applied to “all forms of contempt for the freedom and dignity of any human being, compatriots or foreigners.”
Nearly 900 churches "regularized" by the Egyptian government in less than 3 years 11-4-19
In Egypt, the process of "legalizing" Christian places of worship built in the past without the required permits continues, along with the granting of permits for the construction of new churches. In the last month, the special governmental committee in charge of audits has legalized another 111 places of worship, bringing to 984 the number of Christian churches regularized, restored or built from scratch in less than 3 years, starting from the approval of the new law on the construction and management of places of worship.
The work of the government commission, set up ad hoc, consists in verifying whether thousands of Christian churches and places of prayer built in the past without the required authorizations meet the standards established by the new law. Verification is usually resolved in the "regularization" of places of worship, which are declared compliant with the parameters defined by the new legal provisions.
Asia - 50 years of evangelization for Radio Veritas 11-4-19
With the presence of numerous Asian Bishops, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Radio Veritas, the radio station run by the Catholic Church in Asia, which has done so much for the evangelization of the continent, takes place in Manila this week. The three days of commemoration (10-12 April) opened with the presence of representatives of the Federation of Episcopal Conferences of Asia (FABC) at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila along with the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines. A commemorative monument to the 50th anniversary is inaugurated on April 11, at the Radio Veritas complex in Quezon City, where the inauguration of a Radio Veritas Asia museum is also planned, in the presence of people and institutions that have supported the venture in this half century of activity.
After ten years of technical and editorial preparation, on 11 April 1969, thanks to the support of German Catholic bodies, Radio Veritas transmissions began officially: the chosen site was Quezon City (in the metropolis Manila) and was inaugurated by Cardinal Antonio Samorè, who arrived from the Vatican, and by the then Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Rufino Santos. "Celebrating our Jubilee today helps us to reiterate our constant dedication to proclaiming the truth of Christ, in fidelity to the Gospel and to the Pope's teaching" said Fr. Anton Pascual, president of Radio Veritas.
In 1991 Radio Veritas became a commercial radio station, while Radio Veritas Asia continued short-wave broadcasts on the Asian continent. It then moved to a digital platform in 2007 and, more recently, on streaming and social media.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has called on the RVA which celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 11, to help build “a more just and united society." He called on RVA to preach the Gospel and be a "channel of love by being the voice of the poor."
Bishop urges UK to take the lead in abolishing death penalty 11-4-19
The number of known executions fell by over 30 per cent in 2018 and more than two thirds of countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice, Amnesty International said in a report released on 10 April.
Bishop Declan Lang, the England and Wales Bishops Conference’s lead bishop for international affairs, welcomed on 11 April news of the international decline in executions.
Bishop Lang said, “Once again, I urge our government to redouble its efforts towards promoting global abolition of the death penalty. There are both diplomatic and economic means of driving forward this goal - for example through UK’s trade offices.
Sudan’s military overthrows Bashir; British lawmaker says too soon for Christians to celebrate
Sudan—a Muslim nation distinct from largely Christian and animist South Sudan—was ruled by Omar al-Bashir from 1989 until an April 11 coup. “The hallmark of President Bashir’s genocidal rule has been the persecution of Christians and the merciless ethnic cleansing of black African Sudanese citizens,” said British lawmaker Lord David Alton. “Until the transitional authorities in Khartoum distance themselves from the fundamentalist Islamism of the past 30 years, there is no guarantee the Sudanese will enjoy a peaceful, free and prosperous future.”
Scientific photos of Shroud of Turin published 12-4-19
A new website (https://www.shroudphotos.com/) aims to make available to Catholics and researchers a collection of photographs of the Shroud of Turin by a scientific photographer, Vernon Miller, who was part of a research project that spent more than one hundred hours conducting tests on the shroud.
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth 14 feet 5 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide, which shows the image of a man tortured and crucified. It is held by many Catholics to be the burial cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus after his death on the cross.
The late Vernon Miller of the Brooks Institute of Photography took the photographs in 1978.
Postulator tells Italian TV of report that Carlo Acutis’ body is incorrupt 12-4-19
The postulator for the canonization cause of the young Carlo Acutis told an Italian TV station this week that he is aware the body of the Servant of God was reported to be found incorrupt.
Nicola Gori told Tv2000 on April 8 that “the body of Carlo Acutis was intact, according to what I’ve been told.” The news came from Carlo Acutis’ mother.
Acutis died of leukemia in 2006. He was a great devotee of the Eucharist and Pope Francis has praised him as an inspiration for young people, most recently in his exhortation for young people Christ Is Alive. One of Carlo’s most significant computer ventures was cataloguing all the Eucharistic miracles of the world.
The international anti-trafficking conference in Rome 12-4-19
The international anti-trafficking conference promoted by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for the Integral Human Development Service, held from 8 to 11 April in Rome.
Receiving the participants of the Conference on 11 April, at the end of the work, Pope Francis reiterated that "All actions that aim to restore and promote our humanity and that of others are in line with the mission of the Church, as a continuation of the saving mission of Christ. And this missionary value is evident in the struggle against all forms of trafficking and in the commitment towards the redemption of the survivors ... Much has been done and is being done, but much remains to be done."
South Sudan - "The South Sudanese affected by the gesture that Pope Francis made in their name" 12-4-19
"The South Sudanese were positively shocked to see Pope Francis pleading with South Sudanese politicians, bowing and kissing their feet. The videos and images of the event are running on all televisions, on social media and on smartphones of ordinary people "Sister Elena Balatti, a Comboni missionary who is in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, says. On April 11, at the conclusion of the spiritual retreat, at Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican, of political leaders of South Sudan, Pope Francis knelt before them launching an appeal for the future of the new State that will be born on May 12 and kissing the feet of the President of the Republic Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the deputy presidents designated, including Riek Machar and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior. "The population recognizes and greatly appreciates the efforts that the Holy Father, the Bishops and the whole local Church is making for peace in South Sudan," says the nun. "We have all been struck by Pope Francis' insistence in reminding politicians of their responsibilities towards a people that is suffering a lot, which has suffered so many losses, in addition to those who have had to leave their country. This is why he knelt down, he did it in the name of the South Sudanese people," says the missionary
South Korea - Unconstitutional abortion ban, Bishops: "It is always a sin" 12-4-19
The Bishops of South Korea express "profound regret" over the Constitutional Court ruling, which declared the abortion ban, contained in a law of 1953 and still in force, illegitimate. In a historic ruling issued on April 11, the Court ruled that the prohibition of voluntary interruption of pregnancy in force in the country is unconstitutional.
"Abortion is a sin, it is killing for any reason an innocent life in the mother's womb: this is the teaching of the Catholic Church that can never justify such a practice", the bishops say.
Brunei steps back to the stoning age 12-4-19
The sultan of Brunei has kept his promise and instituted a Saudi brand of Shariah law, which will enable religious authorities to inflict a raft of medieval punishments including amputations and death by stoning for crimes they consider worthy.
Laws enabling the macabre practices came into force last week as Brunei, once a moderate and wealthy Islamic sultanate, grapples with dwindling oil reserves and is making every effort to please Saudi Arabia, a key ally and benefactor.
Visit of St. John Paul II relic draws young Filipinos 12-4-19
A blood relic of the late pontiff, St. John Paul II, has been attracting young people in the central Philippine archdiocese of Palo. The relic has been touring the country as part of preparations for the 500th anniversary celebration of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
Touring with the saint's relic is the "National Youth Cross," which was made for the Philippine Catholic youth ministry, in time for this year's observance of the Year of the Youth, which will end on Nov. 24, 2019, the Feast of Christ the King.
Relics have always received particular veneration and attention in the Catholic Church because of the belief that the bodies of saints have become instruments of their holiness.
China holds first bishop elections since Vatican deal 12-4-19
The China Church has held the first round of bishop elections on April 11 since the Vatican-China provisional agreement on appointing bishops was signed last September.
Hanzhong Diocese in Shaanxi province and Jining Diocese in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region elected a coadjutor bishop and ordinary bishop respectively. Most of the diocesan clergy including Bishop Aloysius Yu Runshen voted in the election, though one was out of town and two were blocked by the government. “The authorities told the voters beforehand that ‘there is only one candidate. You have to vote for him [Father Xu], otherwise missionary work for the diocese will be banned,’” a local Catholic who identified himself as Peter said. He said about 100 police and government officers were at the election venue.
Caritas aims to ease India's hunger pains 12-4-19
A Lent campaign spearheaded by Caritas India is fighting chronic malnutrition in the country.
The Catholic charity launched its nationwide campaign for this year’s Lent, a seven-week period culminating in Easter Sunday on April 21, with the theme “Nutrition our right — Unite for a healthy India.”
“It is an effort of solidarity during the Lenten season that the Church reaches out to those on the fringes,” especially children of the socially poor Dalit, tribal and marginalized people, said Father Jolly Puthenpura, assistant executive director of Caritas India.
India is home to the largest number of the world’s undernourished children — 195 million. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 report says a whopping 47 million are stunted while 25.5 million are underweight – attributed to poverty and unequal distribution of wealth.
The campaign aims to spread awareness of malnutrition through various programs, including posters, talks and walks, so as to gain people’s support to fight the problem, said Father Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India.
Pope to students: 'don’t be slaves to your mobile phones' 13-4-19
Pope Francis received students and teachers of a Rome high school in the Vatican on April 13, encouraging them to cultivate passion and curiosity and warning them against dependency on their mobile phones.
Malawi - Bishops' solidarity with flood victims 13-4-19
"We are here to bring our solidarity with you and to fulfill our responsibility to help those in need" said Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre and President of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), during the visit of an ECM delegation to the victims of the March floods caused by the passage of the IDAI cyclone.
Speaking to the people received in the camps for displaced people of Makina, Matiya and Mwalija, Archbishop Msusa said that "the Bishops understand the difficulties you are going through. Therefore, we asked the partners of the Catholic Development - Help to the Church that suffers, Cordaid, Sign of Hope, Caritas Australia and Caritas Korea through Caritas Internationalis to help us so that we in turn can help you. We thank them because through their help, we could solve some of your problems. "
Thanks to the resources already available, the Episcopal Conference through the Catholic Development Commission (CADECOM), will build 450 houses, 150 for each of the most affected districts of Zomba, Chikwawa and Phalombe. The project also provides for the supply of drinking water through the excavation of wells.
The floods have caused at least 57 victims while the people affected by the consequences of heavy rains are about one million (of which about half a million are children) in 14 districts.
The President of the Bishops' Conference: "No to corruption and violence, yes to good politics" 13-4-19
"We must distinguish between good politics, in the high sense of the term, and electoral contention. In Indonesia, good politics is obscured because of the rampant corruption that involves politicians, officials, civil officials, government bodies. Having no moral conscience, the population has lost faith in them ", Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta and President of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, says on the eve of the elections to be held on April 17, at the height of the election campaign.
"In this situation, the Church should encourage lay Catholics, animated by the values ??of good politics, to get involved in the governance structure. In this sense, the involvement of Catholics in politics should also be practiced today", he notes, noting the presence of 151 Catholic candidates on the electoral roll.
Pope Palm Sunday: Jesus destroys triumphalism by his Passion 14-4-19
Thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the celebration of Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Young people could be seen waving palms and olive branches as the sun beamed down.
As the “Hosanna” rang out a solemn procession saw Cardinals, priests, and ordinary men and women making their way around the Square. Following the Gospel, which was read by three deacons and recounts Christ’s Passion, Pope Francis in his homily recalled how Jesus in his entry into Jerusalem shows us the way with his humility in the face of triumphalism. “There is no negotiating with the cross: one either embraces it or rejects it. By his self-abasement, Jesus wanted to open up to us the path of faith and to precede us on that path,” the Pope said.
Pope to Youth: Let Apostolic Exhortation be a guide to faith and service 14-4-19
Pope Francis recalled during the Angelus that Palm Sunday is also diocesan World Youth Day and invited young people to live out the fruits of the Synod, in the form of the Apostolic Exhortation, Christ is alive. Pope Francis also gifted each of the young people present in the square a Rosary, beads of which came from Holy Land’s olive seeds. He said: “I therefore renew my call to young people and to all to pray the Rosary for peace, especially for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East.”