29 Apr- 5 May, 2019


Vatican says ‘alleged ideological neutrality’ threatens religious freedom            29-4-19

The International Theological Commission has warned of a “soft totalitarianism” that threatens religious freedom in democratic countries. The Vatican body, in a message approved by Pope Francis, said that religious freedom is compromised by an “ideology of neutrality which, in fact, imposes the exclusion of religious expression from the public sphere.”


Pope cautions hairdressers against gossip            29-4-19

Speaking on April 29 to a group of Italian hairdressers, Pope Francis recommended “treating customers with kindness and courtesy” while “avoiding giving in to the temptation to gossip that can easily creep into your work environment.”

the Holy Father Francis had received in audience the hairdressers of the Saint Martin de Porres Committee, on the occasion of their pilgrimage to Rome.


$500,000 in aid from the Pope to assist migrants in Mexico           29-4-19

“This amount will be distributed among 27 projects in 16 dioceses and among Mexican religious congregations that have asked for help in order to continue providing housing, food and basic necessities to these our brothers and sisters,” according to a statement from Peter’s Pence, which assists the Holy See and its works of charity.

‘Reproductive health’ does not include abortion, Vatican diplomat says at UN           29-4-19

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressed UN meeting devoted to world population. The prelate also said, “While population growth is often blamed for environmental problems, we know that the matter is much more complex. Wasteful patterns of consumption, growing inequalities, the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, the absence of restrictions or safeguards in industries, all endanger the natural environment.”

‘Argentina’s Romero,’ 3 more casualties of ‘Dirty War’ beatified             29-4-19

Bishop Enrique Angelelli, Fathers Carlos de Dios Murias and Gabriel Longueville, and Wenceslao Pedernera (a layman) were slain in 1976 and beatified as martyrs on April 28 in La Rioja, Argentina. Pope Francis said the following day, “These martyrs of the faith were persecuted for the cause of justice and evangelical charity. May their example and intercession support, in particular, all those who work for a more just and solidary society.”

Pope urges new Philippine shrine be centre of missionary outreach           29-4-19

As the new National Shrine of San Antonio de Padua of the Philippines was inaugurated this week, Pope Francis sent his greetings to the faithful hoping it will continue to be ‘a centre of constant missionary outreach’. 

As San Pablo Diocese welcomed its first national shrine in the heritage town of Pila, in the Province of Laguna, the Holy Father said he was praying that devotees may all be renewed in the love of Christ”. Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), presided over the Mass for the declaration of the National Shrine of San Antonio de Padua on April 23.

Jihadists attack Christians in Burkina Faso; 6 dead             28-4-19

Gunmen have opened fire on a Protestant church in northern Burkina Faso, killing at least six people, officials say.The attackers reportedly arrived on seven motorbikes at the end of Sunday's service and killed the pastor, two of his sons and three other worshippers. It is the first attack on a church since jihadist violence erupted in the West African country in 2016. This happened in the small town of Silgadji near Djibo, the capital of Soum province, at around 12:00 local time Islamist groups have been blamed for a number of attacks in the country in recent years. On Friday, 26 April, five teachers were killed in the east of the country in another incident attributed to jihadists. Meanwhile, the fate of a Catholic priest kidnapped a month ago remains unclear.

Cardinal, 100 Roman priests visit Moscow                 29-4-19

Around one hundred priests from the Pope’s diocese, Rome, will go from 29 April to 3 May to Moscow and other neighbouring towns, accompanied by the cardinal vicar, Angelo De Donatis, Fr. Germano Marani, professor at the Russicum, and Michelina Tenace, professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The visit, organized by Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, coincides with the Orthodox Easter and has as its motto “Consolidating priestly brotherhood. Knowledge and contact with Russian Orthodox spirituality”.

The trip will include cultural visits, prayer events and meetings with representatives of the local Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, including Patriarch Kyril in the Lavra of Saint Sergius.


Hindu radical leader calls for the forced sterilisation of Christians and Muslims        29-4-19

Christians and Muslims are a threat to Hindus and so “have to be forced to undergo sterilisation,” said Sadhvi Deva Thakur, vice president of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha party, speaking to reporters on 27 April. The party was founded in 1915 and holds no seats in the Indian parliament.

Ms Thakur also noted that Hindus should have more children to increase their population to counter the rise of Christians and Muslims. According to John Dayal, general secretary of the All India Christian Council, some Hindus are gripped by "paranoia" since their numbers fell below 80 per cent of the population.


Philippine bishops remind Catholics to vote with faith       29-4-19

As elections in the Philippines near, several Catholic bishops are using the pulpit to urge people to elect “the right leaders” and to learn from the lessons of the past.

In a pastoral message circulated in his archdiocese at the weekend, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan called on Catholics to bring their Christian faith when they vote. "Do not leave God when you vote," he said, adding that the winners in elections are "mirrors of the values and aspirations, dreams and hopes of the people who voted for them."

The Philippines will hold national elections on May 13 to vote for 12 senators, members of the House of Representatives and provincial and local leaders.


Muslims help Christians renovate iconic Pakistan cathedral        29-4-19

A three-day music festival was held in Karachi to raise funds for the renovation of one of Pakistan’s oldest churches that may go for three years. The Muslim community joined hands with Catholics from St. Patrick’s Parish for the event to support 175-year-old St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

In his address, Cardinal Joseph Coutts of Karachi welcomed the gesture by Muslim brethren and appreciated their presence, cooperation and support. 

Imran Ismail, the governor of Pakistan’s Sindh province, inaugurated the event.


Mexico - Bishops in the Assembly on pastoral emergencies, the Pope's help in welcoming migrants           29-4-19

From 29 April until 3 May, the CVII Plenary Assembly of the Mexican Episcopal Conference (CEM) are held with the participation of around 150 Bishops. The Assembly will be attended by the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola, and a representative of the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious in Mexico (CIRM).

This Plenary Assembly aims to program the Global Pastoral Project in its interaction with the diocesan and provincial plans, through the general guidelines for implementation, addressing various pastoral emergencies of the Church in Mexico, that is, attention to young people, migrants, to priests and to the protection of minors.

With regard to the migrant emergency, the Holy Father has donated $ 500,000 to support the pastoral work connected to welcoming migrants, which in recent months in Mexico has become a social emergency.

"Most of the aid will be for migrants' homes, particularly for the dioceses that are on the border, both on the southern border and on the northern border," said President Cabrera López.

Masses cancelled in Sri Lanka after terror attacks              29-4-19, 3-5-19

Intelligence reports of renewed terror attacks on churches have forced the Catholic church to cancel the plan to reopen churches for worship from Sunday 5 May.

Fears of suicide bomb attacks kept many Christians and Muslims away from churches and mosques for Sunday Mass and Friday prayers. The Catholic Church has halted Masses and Sunday schools until security improves after terror attacks killed more than 250 people on Easter Sunday. Many mosques cancelled Friday prayers in solidarity with churches.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith held a private Mass in Borella on April 28 that was broadcast live on radio and television. Calling the bombing ‘insults to humanity’ he said, "No one has the right to kill innocent people. Stop these killings in the name of God. Human life is the most beautiful and all of us are unique,” he said in his homily.

He had announced that Masses would resume on 5 May. But the latest intelligence reports (2 May) have made him cancel that plan.


Philippine church leader says sorry to youth for sex abuse        29-4-19

The head of the Philippine Catholic bishops' conference has asked forgiveness for sex abuses committed by members of the clergy, especially against children.

"We bow in shame, we beg for forgiveness," Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao told about 15,000 delegates to this year's National Youth Day celebration in Cebu on April 27.

"We continue to say: We are so sorry and beg for forgiveness from the Lord and from those this hurt and the wrongdoing that has been done," said the prelate during a forum with young people.

The archbishop assured participants of the gathering that Philippine Church leaders are "all committed and do all that we can ... to stop this."

Thousands oppose proposed Hong Kong extradition law        29-4-19

An estimated 130,000 Hong Kong people demonstrated against a proposed extradition law that would allow people from the former British colony to be sent to mainland China to face trial.

Religious leaders in the Chinese territory are concerned that their mission on the mainland would be affected by the move. Protesters marched from Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council Building in Admiralty on April 28 in the largest demonstration since the 79-day Occupy Central mass protests in 2014.


Pope receives president of Togo          30-4-19

Pope Francis received in audience on April 29 President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo. Among the issues that the Holy See and Togolese delegations discussed during the April 29 meetings was the Church’s contribution to Togo and the challenges facing West and Sub-Saharan Africa. Pope St. John Paul II made an apostolic visit to the nation in 1985.


Henan, Catholic church crosses demolished in Weihui          30-4-19 

The repression and sinicization of the Catholic Church continues in the Henan. Two days ago the local authorities of Weihui, in the diocese of Anyang, destroyed the huge iron crosses that stood out on the two bell towers.

Two videos of the operation show workers on tall cranes removing the crosses. Dozens of policemen are in the courtyard to prevent possible criticism and resistance. Many faithful, impotent against abuse, kneel on the steps of the Church in prayer and singing. The faithful remained in prayer throughout the day.


Pontifical academy examines ‘growing threat of nationalist revival’               30-4-19 

“Nation, State, Nation-State” is the theme of the three-day conference, which takes place this week in the Vatican. “The world is facing today a growing threat of nationalist revival,” according to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. “Our conference wants to understand ... why after World War II supranational institutions became increasingly powerful, and why in the last years there has been a backlash against internationalism and a resurgence of nationalism.”


Angola: Traditional sects and healers worry Archbishop José Imbamba            30-4-19

Archbishop José Manuel Imbamba of Saurimo, the capital of the Lunda Sul province, has urged Angolan authorities to urgently take adequate and effective measures to thwart the spread of HIV/AIDS by increasing public awareness of the pandemic.

The Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST) has said part of this awareness must be the condemnation of the behaviour of some "religious sects" and "Kimbandas" (traditional healers) who make false promises of being "empowered" to cure HIV / AIDS with only water, oil, or by word of prophecy.

Action to combat the pandemic should also be accompanied by increased free distribution of drugs and awareness of the causes, prevention methods and effects of HIV / AIDS, especially in schools, military units and centres of higher population concentration, says the Archbishop.


Islamic State leader: Sri Lanka attack was revenge for Syria         30-4-19

The leader of the Islamic State group praised the Easter suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people in Sri Lanka in a video released on Monday, 29 April, calling on militants to be a “thorn” against their enemies in his first filmed appearance in nearly five years.

The video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to whom the suicide bombers in last week’s attack apparently pledged their loyalty, came as the top official in the Catholic Church urged Sri Lanka to crack down on Islamic extremists “as if on war footing.”

Al-Baghdadi said the attack in Sri Lanka was a revenge for Syria where IS failed to hold sway.


South Africa - "Xenophobia risks bringing us back to the time of apartheid"         30-4-19

"If the unjustified violent attacks against migrants and refugees do not stop, the South Africans run the risk of becoming like the oppressors of the apartheid era" warns Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg in a message on the wave of xenophobic violence that affects migrants, refugees and workers from neighbouring African countries. "The xenophobic attacks have become so violent and frequent that members of the diplomatic corps have found it necessary to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs for an explanation," said Archbishop Tlhagale. He recalls that "migrants from Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique have been employed in the mining sector for decades" and that "migrants bring skills to the economy". In addition, there are migrants who "run businesses and provide jobs to the local population". "The contribution of migrants to the economy is therefore significant", says Archshop Tlhagale.

Eritrea - "It is necessary to grow together as a people and as a country, without leaving anyone behind": appeal from the Bishops         30-4-19

"In this unscrupulous world where we want to build the walls of division, we want to eliminate all separation: only in this way can we build a nation characterized by unity and harmony", say the Bishops of Eritrea in a pastoral letter published on Sunday, April 28, on the occasion of Eastern Easter of the Alexandrian Catholic Coptic rite. Eritrea, independent of Ethiopia since 1993, still suffers from the consequences of the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia; as the Bishops recall "Because of the war, our country has experienced great marginalization in the past. For various reasons the fate of our young people, our mothers, and families was only to emigrate and leave their homes. In the absence of adequate solutions, all this continues and the diaspora of our people endangers the existence and continuity of the country itself." The Bishops make an appeal to the Eritrean diaspora scattered around the world to help the motherland to restore the economy and start national reconciliation. "It is necessary to grow together as a people and as a country, without leaving anyone behind" the Bishops underline.


Lebanon - The "kafala", an instrument of oppression for immigrant African women          30-4-19

A Caritas project in Lebanon together with some Italian NGOs is trying to get women out of a condition of unacceptable exploitation brought by Kafala. "Kafala" works like this: The contracting agency finds a sponsor who bears the expenses connected with immigration and work permit in his country. At this point the women find themselves slaves. 65% of women workers had experience with forced labour and slavery. Sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies, abuse, beatings, exploitation are the order of the day. The salary levels of these workers are low, in some cases less than $ 200 a month. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, there are over two million migrants affected by the phenomenon of kafala, which is common throughout the Middle East. In particular, in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman. But it is in Lebanon that the kafala produces negative effects. In the country of the cedars, it is estimated that 250,000 immigrant women, from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and the Philippines, are victims. Caritas helps those who escape. Together with the first reception and assistance in Lebanon, Caritas’ project includes a path of voluntary repatriation and reintegration in the countries of origin.

Australia - Catholic Social Services Australia: "Citizens vote for the rights of the weakest"30-4-19

The Catholic Social Services Australia on the institution for social services of the Catholic Church in Australia has given guidelines on whom to choose in the elections on May 18. The choice must be based on commitment to: access to adequate income and welfare services for poor and vulnerable families; a work guarantee program that leads to full employment; the empowerment and self-determination of the natives, through a collaboration and a true partnership with the aboriginal populations and of Torres Strait Islander, for a progressive constitutional recognition; the reintegration of all the refugees remaining on the islands of Manus and Nauru.

Recently, the Justice and Peace Commission of Australian Catholic Bishops (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, ACSJC) asked responses to social issues left unattended for years, while Catholic Health Australia, the Catholic non-governmental network of active healthcare services in Australia, called for emphasis on the needs of the elderly.


Philippine church gets its very own 'Sistine Chapel'         30-4-19On the island of Bantayan in the central Philippines, artists were adding the finishing touches to a mural on the ceiling of the island's old church days before Holy Week.

The church's priest, Joselito Enriquez Danao, said the idea of God is so "profound" that he thought of using visuals for people to "comprehend and understand the love and the forgiveness of God."

So, in 2016, when he was assigned to the Saints Peter and Paul Parish on the island, Father Danao started the concept of “dibuho kisame,” which literally means "ceiling painting." It was also when the government's National Heritage Commission was in the process of restoring the old church and convent that date back to the 18th century.

"While I was watching the restoration, I noticed that the ceiling was bare and plain," said the priest. 

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

After permission from the Commission on the Cultural Heritage of the Church and its government counterpart was granted, the priest scoured for artists. He found one from a mural in a local bar.

"When I looked at [the mural], it was really impressive. The people had realistic eyes," said Father Danao about the artwork of Aris Avelino Pastor.

When told about the project, Pastor said "the hair all over my body stood on end."  Pastor said it was his dream since childhood to paint murals on a church "like what Michelangelo did with the Sistine Chapel ceiling." Pastor, a native of Palompon, a town in nearby Leyte province, led a team of 12 other artists including a woman to do the giant mural that measures 1,130 square meters. Painting the mural was literally a "neck-breaking task." The artists had to climb scaffolding and had to be looking up the whole day.

Pastor said the mural is divided into sections, starting with the story of the arrival of Christianity 500 years ago to the islands that later became known as the Philippines, the foundation of the parish, the arrival of the missionaries, raids conducted by pirates, and other historical events that would remind people of the history of their church.

An image of Jesus and scenes from the lives of Saints Peter and Paul will also catch the attention of anyone entering the church. The last panels of the mural leading up above the church's altar depict scenes from the life of Jesus from his birth to his Passion and Death on the cross.

"The concept is visual catechism," said Father Danao. He expressed hope that people will be reminded of the Holy Scriptures when they visit the church and see the mural.


Chinese Catholics worried about 'political scanning'           30-4-19

A Henan priest said that the provincial Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Catholic Church Committee approached him during Holy Week to seek to appraise him. A few days later, he found the newly launched annual appraisal scheme with an assessment form on WeChat. “The appraisal is ridiculous,” he said. All clergy with the Chinese Catholic Religious Personnel Certificate issued by the two organizations are to be appraised.

The appraisal focuses on loving the China Church, patriotism, morality, law obedience, upholding canon law, performance, and knowledge of theology and social services. Each item is worth 10-15 points in the appraisal. If the subject gets less than 55 points or violates religious regulations, he/she will fail the appraisal and will be warned or prohibited from carrying out his/her duties.


Students blamed for arson attack on church school in India          30-4-19

Catholics in India’s Manipur state have accused a students’ organization of burning down a school after being angered by disciplinary action taken against some students.

Seven classrooms, a records room and offices of St. Joseph School in the Sugnu area of Chandel district were destroyed by an arson attack on the night of April 25 after six students were suspended for indiscipline. “We believe this was orchestrated in retaliation to the school management’s decision to suspend six female students of grade nine,” Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal said. The school functions under his Imphal Archdiocese that covers the entire state of Manipur.

Police suspect the involvement of the powerful Kuki Student Organization (KSO), a forum of students of ethnic Kuki people, the dominant hilltribe in Manipur.


Bangladeshi priest fears for his life over brother's murder case            30-4-19

A Bangladeshi Catholic priest says he is living in fear after hearing of death threats against him since he filed a murder case against a former parliamentarian to seek justice for his brother who died in suspicious circumstances.

Father Samson Marandy, 64, an ethnic Santal from Dinajpur Diocese in northern Bangladesh, filed a murder case on April 9 against 13 people including Abul Kalam Azad, a former ruling Awami League MP from the Govindaganj constituency of Gaibandha district, over the death of his brother Ovidio Marandy five years ago. The priest described it a ‘brutal killing.’

At the time of his death, Ovidio Marandy, then 32, was assistant commissioner of land in Govindaganj of Gaibandha district. He clashed with Azad by resisting illegal activities allegedly being committed by him and his men, especially land grabbing from poor indigenous people.


Bishops warn against scams targeting Filipino Catholics           30-4-19

Church leaders in the Philippines have warned against the proliferation of online scams that have recently targeted unsuspecting Catholics.

Manila Cathedral issued a call last week against a social media account selling "miraculous medals" and claiming to be connected with the Church. The bogus Facebook account "Youth for Manila Cathedral" claimed religious items it was selling had been blessed by Vatican priests and bishops.
It further said proceeds from sales would be donated to the cathedral for its renovation.

Nigerian bishops make new appeal for abducted girls            30-4-19

In their Easter messages, the Nigerian bishops urged the government, among other things, to end the incessant and wanton killings of fellow citizens in the country, reinforcing that no one has the right to kill another person.

Bishop Hilary Okeke of Nnewi said there was a ray of hope regarding the fate of the abducted girls and that Nigeria’s bishops “are not relenting” in their efforts to recover them from their captivity.

Leah Sharibu, 15, was taken hostage with more than 100 girls in the town of Dapchi early last year, in the largest mass abduction since Boko Haram took 220 girls from the town of Chibok in 2014. When the other Dapchi girls were freed a month later, Leah was the only one not released – reportedly because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. About 120 Chibok girls are still in captivity.


Catholic Mission to help rebuild Church in Sri Lanka           30-4-19

Joining other Church agencies in responding to the devastating bombings in Sri Lanka, which have killed over 250 people, ‘Catholic Mission’ of Australia launched last week an appeal to supporters to help the nation heal. Australia’s national director of Catholic Mission, Fr Brian Lucas, said the mission organisation’s focus in Sri Lanka would be on rebuilding the Church infrastructure and parish communities as part of the long recovery process.




‘Lead us not into temptation’ is theme of Pope’s Wednesday General Audience         1-5-19

Pope Francis resumed his explanation of the “Our Father” at the General Audience and emphasized “‘When we are tempted, we know that we are not alone: for Christ has already taken on himself the weight of our cross, calling us to carry it with him and to entrust ourselves to the Father’s faithful love’

Here are his words in English:

In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the penultimate invocation: “Lead us not into temptation”. Here our dialogue with God enters into the drama of the battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one. It is not easy to accurately capture the exact meaning of the original Greek, but we can certainly say that God does not seek to put temptations in our way. Both tribulation and temptation, moreover, are mysteriously present even in the life of Jesus, and this experience makes him completely our brother. In the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus overcomes any temptation to abandon the Father’s will. When we in turn are tempted, we know that we are not alone: for Christ has already taken on himself the weight of our cross, calling us to carry it with him and to entrust ourselves to the Father’s faithful love.


Pope Francis Celebrates Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker          1-5-19

Pope Francis noted that May 1 is the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker and called for prayers for those who are without work. His remarks came during his General Audience.

“Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker,” the Holy Father said. “May the figure of the humble worker of Nazareth always guide us to Christ; support the sacrifice of those that do good and intercede for those that have lost work or are unable to find it. Let us pray especially for those that don’t have work, which is a global tragedy of these times.”


Sri Lanka: ordination Mass takes place despite threats            1-5-19

Although Masses have been cancelled throughout Sri Lanka as a safety measure after the Easter Sunday bombings, an ordination Mass took place on 30 April at St Joseph’s Catholic Church on schedule in the town of Thannamunai, northeast of the capital city, Colombo. About 80 priests participated in the Eucharistic ceremony, which took place under heavy military protection.

Father Norton Johnson, the newly ordained, said the people and he himself were afraid.  “However, security personnel gave us good protection,” he said.


Islamic State sowing terror worldwide, warns Iraqi prelate             1-5-19

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako warned that the Islamic State, under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is trying to “sow terror everywhere.” The Iraqi Catholic leader spoke to AsiaNews after the Easter bombing in Sri Lanka, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility. The Patriarch said that the West is vulnerable to terror campaigns because it is “ever less attentive to spiritual and moral values.”

He said, “Muslim authorities have the task and the responsibility to defeat this (terrorist) ideology, which is based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic law and imposes violence everywhere."


French bishops publish document: ‘What is man that You think of him?’         1-5-19

In “What is man that You think of him? Elements of Catholic anthropology,” the French bishops note that the 20th century—the century of atheistic humanism—was also the century that witnessed the murder of the greatest number of innocent human beings. The bishops discuss man as a creature willed by God, with freedom and responsibility, called to respect life from the first moment of existence to natural death.

India - Appointment of Bishop of Belgaum           1-5-19

On May 1, 2019, the Holy Father appointed bishop for the Belgaum diocese, Karnataka state, bishop Derek Fernandes (64), transferring him from Karwar.


South Asian refugees face reprisals after Easter bombings       1-5-19

Migrant workers and refugees from South Asia require extra protection in Sri Lanka amid a rising sense of religious nationalism, and as the country reels from the Easter Sunday bombings of churches and luxury hotels in Colombo and nearby Negombo, according to human rights groups.

Muslims are considered the main target of potential reprisals in the wake of the attacks, allegedly carried out by local extremists with the support of the Islamic State, but Christians and Ahmadis are also seen as being at risk.

Some groups of migrants have been forced to return to police stations while others have either fled their homes under duress and threats, or been unable to leave their houses for fear of being attacked, according to media reports.

Poor people benefit from Delhi Catholics' walkathon       1-5-19

Local Catholics saving money by walking instead of paying for transport during part of their daily work travel has gone for the benefit of Delhi’s poor.

Last year was the walkathon’s first effort, and it proved to be a success, said Father John Britto, director of the archdiocese’s charity wing, Chetanalaya. The priest said someone participating in the walkathon usually walked the last part of their journey to work. “The money saved from walking would become the donation,” he said.

Last year the program collected around 70,000 rupees which allowed them to fund nine physically challenged people plus two elderly people start small businesses. Through the money made this year, Fr Britto said that the program will aim at helping women — single women, widows or women with disability. But Father Britto added that those who participated in the March 6 to April 21 walkathon can propose beneficiaries.


Philippine bishops back workers' May Day calls             1-5-19

As thousands of Filipinos marched in the streets of Manila in Labor Day protests on May 1, several Catholic bishops lent their voices to calls for decent jobs and employment security for workers.

The bishops said ensuring job security for workers is one of the best gifts the Philippines government can give to its people.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People as well as Manila’s Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo called for employment security and the abolition of ‘contractualization’, leaving a contractor to recruit labourers who, therefore, can be sacked anytime or paid low.

Bangladesh domestic workers demand rights, end of abuses             1-5-19

May Day protesters call on government to turn welfare policy into law

Dozens of domestic workers took part in a rally in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka to mark May Day and called on the government to fully implement a welfare policy to ensure their rights and stop abuses.

About 150 workers, mostly domestic helpers, took part in a daylong program including a rally in the capital organized by Catholic charity Caritas Dhaka.


Indonesian archdiocese opens new cathedral       1-5-19

Catholics in Samarinda Archdiocese in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province have a new cathedral church, which was inaugurated on April 30.

The new church-St Mary of Perpetual Help Cathedral- is being hailed as one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and is a modern design that displays the cultural heritage of ethnic Dayak people, the biggest tribal group in the region and who welcomed Christianity 114 years ago.

The inaugural ceremony for the St. Mary of Perpetual Help Cathedral Church was led by the papal nuncio to Indonesia, Archbishop Piero Pioppo and East Kalimantan Governor Isran Noor. Thousands of Catholics — including dozens of bishops, priests and nuns — as well as leaders of other religions attended the ceremony, which included traditional dances by 5 Kayak tribes.

Father Moses Komela Avan, the parish priest at St. Mary's Cathedral, said the church was now the biggest in East Kalimantan and could accommodate 4,000 worshipers. He said its interior and exterior design is enhanced with carvings and paintings from Dayak tribes, while Gothic and contemporary architecture can be seen with the church’s tower and balcony.

Holy Family Archbishop Justinus Hardjo Susanto of Samarinda said the cathedral aims to unite Catholics from various tribes and show appreciation of the local people and culture in general.

“The presence of this cathedral can strengthen the faith of Catholics and the unity of all religions, tribes, and ethics,” he said.


Bolivian cardinal endorses re-election campaign of socialist President Morales          2-5-19

Cardinal Toribio Ticona has stirred controversy in Bolivia by saying that “we must always go with President Evo Morales; not only do we have to speak, but we must work” for his re-election. The country’s episcopal conference issued a statement noting that Cardinal Ticona, who is retired, was expressing a “personal” opinion and does not speak for the Church.


El Paso bishop, in congressional testimony, calls for humane treatment of asylum seekers

“Our nation has had a long and proud history of providing humane treatment to and due process for asylum seekers,” stated Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, USA. “I urge us to reject policies and proposals that would abandon this tradition, and I ask our government to remember that those fleeing to our border are not the ‘other’ but fellow children of God.”


Papal prayers, best wishes for Japan’s new emperor           2-5-19

Pope Francis has sent on May 2 congratulatory message to the new emperor of Japan, Naruhito.

Emperor Naruhito, 59, succeeded his father, Emperor Akihito, who abdicated because of old age and declining health.

In Western European countries with church taxes, support for the tradition remains strong 2-5-19

“Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and most cantons of Switzerland have mandatory payment systems for registered church members,” the Pew Research Center notes. Spain and Portugal “have voluntary church fee systems; ... Italy, meanwhile, combines voluntary and mandatory elements.”

Pew Research Center says that in Western European countries, where church taxes are mandatory, support for the tradition remains strong.


Central African Republic – Stopped- a missionary who denounces the environmental damage of gold mines              2-5-19

An Italian missionary who denounced the environmental damage of the gold mines in the Central African Republic was stopped by the military. On April 27, Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, a Carmelite missionary in Bozoum, in the north-west of the country, had gone along the banks of the river Ouham to see if the Chinese industries that extract gold, in spite of people’s repeated protests, had stopped the work. He took some photos and some videos. However, Fr. Aurelio was blocked by the military. He explained that he was not in the mining site and therefore free to take photos. They still took away the cameras calling him ‘in custody.’ Seeing him being taken to the Mining Bridage, people gathered together and demanded his release. Though he was released, the cameras were not.

Subsequently, the widespread protests of the people appeared explosive. The put barricades along the road and demonstrated. A vehicle of the Chinese mining company was set on fire. People are threatening to go to the sites to hunt down Chinese workers. Fr Aurelio went to the city with the Prefect and the Public Prosecutor, and tried to calm the population. When the army arrived at full speed with a dozen armed men, the crowd (between 3-4,000 people) went to them and forced them to back off. The military began to shoot people at close range. The people threw ourselves to the ground and no one was hurt.

After the military left, Fr. Aurelio addressed the population urging them to avoid other violent actions, remembering that "the problem of the wild exploitation of natural resources must be regulated by law".


Pakistan - The Pakistani Church in communion with the people of Sri Lanka            2-5-19

Hundreds of faithful in Karachi gathered in St. Patrick's Cathedral to offer their solidarity to the victims of the recent massacre in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. "We deeply feel the pain of the people of Sri Lanka; it is terrible that hate-filled human beings can commit such atrocities ”said Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, during the Eucharistic celebration organized by the" Justice and Peace "Commission in Karachi and celebrated in front of a large assembly composed of clergy, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese. Addressing the assembly of the faithful, the Cardinal said: "Through our faith, our prayers and our hearts, we are in total communion with this wounded population".

The cardinal recalled the great work done by Sri Lankan missionaries in the fields of pastoral care, education etc. over 60 years. In memory of the dead of this carnage, during the celebration the Consul General of the Consulate of Sri Lanka lit the first candle which was followed by that of the clergy, religious, nuns and laity.

Venezuela - Church raids and tear gas bombs on the faithful at mass: appeal for respect for dignity and human rights              2-5-19

A horde of men from the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) attacked the church of Our Lady De Fatima in the Sucre district of San Cristobal in the afternoon of May1. This is reported by Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta of the Diocese of San Cristobal in Venezuela. He had received the news from the parish priest, Father Jairo Clavijo. "The Eucharist was ending when two members of the GNB went into motion inside the church. The parish priest came down from the altar to stop them. During the dialogue attempt, a horde of 40 GNB tried to enter the church full of believers. Even as the priest tried not to let anyone in, he saw a General arrive with the surname Ochoa who began to argue and scold the priest using offensive words. Non content, members of the GNB group threw tear gas bombs inside the church, and immediately escaped leaving a large number of faithful, including many elderly. In a frantic action a woman-religious fainted." Bishop Moronta says: "This event is very serious and is an attack against the Catholic Church. I blamed General Ochoa and the military authorities of the region for this vile event, which speaks for itself of the will of the attackers, who have no respect for human dignity or even fear of God. The Diocese will take the decisions in this regard and will promote the actions considered relevant.

The President of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela (CEV), Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala, of Maracaibo, said on May 1 in a message spread through social networks: "We ask that the repression be stopped! As Bishop and Pastor, I express my total solidarity with the parish priest, Fr Jairo Clavijo, and all the parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima, whom I accompany with my prayer."


Indian Christians seek better security at churches        2-5-19

Christian leaders in India have intensified their call to make churches safer after police arrested a man and accused him of having links to Islamic terror groups and planning to attack religious places in Kerala state.

Police arrested 28-year-old Riyaz Aboobacker, alias Abu Dujanan, at his house in Kerala on April 29 as part of their investigation into the so-called Islamic State (IS) terrorist network in the southern state, local reports said.

According to police, a four-member IS-linked group was planning suicide attacks at tourist destinations and religious places in Kerala similar to the attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that killed 252 people.

The IS threat in India, and South Asia in general, is real, according to research done in 2018 by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent Indian think tank.

Meanwhile, a U.S. report has painted a grim picture of declining religious freedom in India and accused the country’s government of encouraging violence against Christians and Muslims.

The latest report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), made public on April 29, retained India in the Tier 2 category with 11 other nations including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those in Tier 2 are countries with at least one of the elements of the "systematic, ongoing and egregious" standard in criteria the commission uses to gauge violations of religious freedom.


Pope denounces economy aimed at unbridled growth          3-5-19

Pope Francis condemned a “voracious” economic model—“profit-oriented, short-sighted, and based on the misconception of unlimited economic growth—in a May 3 talk with participants in a conference on mining, organized by the dicastery for Integral Human Development. The Pope decried an “unbridled tendency of the economic system to convert the goods of nature into capital,” and called for “a circular model of production capable of preserving resources.”


Pope Francis concerned about growing threat of ‘conflictual nationalism,’ nuclear war       3-5-19

Decrying a “conflictual nationalism that raises walls, even racism or anti-Semitism,” Pope Francis said that “the way in which a nation welcomes migrants reveals its vision of human dignity and its relationship with humanity ... A state that arouses the nationalistic feelings of its own people against other nations or groups of people would fail in its mission.” The Pontiff made his remarks to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences as they discussed the theme of “Nation, State, Nation-State.”


Trump administration bolsters ‘conscience rights’ in health care           3-5-19

In the US, the Trump administration has released new rules protecting the conscience rights of health-care professionals and institutions. Roger Severino, the director of the Office of Civil Rights, explained: “This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health-care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their consciences, including the taking of human life.”


Papal message to Bulgaria precedes apostolic visit               3-5-19

Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Bulgaria, in advance of his visit to that nation May 5-7. The Pontiff said that the trip will be “in the memory of Saint Pope John XXIII,” who was apostolic delegate to Bulgaria for nearly ten years.


Study finds 23 million females are missing because of sex-selective abortion            3-5-19

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and conducted by Fengqing Chao of the National University of Singapore and three other scholars, identified “12 countries with strong statistical evidence of SRB [sex ratio at birth] imbalance: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Republic of Korea, Montenegro, Taiwan, Tunisia, and Vietnam.”


Marathon record-holder Keitany meets Pope           3-5-19

Mary Keitany, a Kenyan, the world recorder holder in a women-only marathon, was received in audience by the Pope on May 3.


Guatemala - Bishops: serious discernment is necessary in view of the general elections3-5-19

"As Bishops in Guatemala we support the application of ethical principles according to the Gospel, we do not support parties or candidates in particular, and every citizen has the full right to decide and vote": reiterates the Presidency of the Bishops’ Conference of Guatemala (CEG) in a message published in view of the general elections on June 16, when the president and members of parliament will be elected.


Mozambique - Cyclone Kenneth: “Rains and gusts of wind have turned the landscape into a landfill”         3-5-19

Destruction and inconveniences due to Cyclone Kenneth which devastated northern Mozambique last week causing about forty deaths. "The rains and gusts of wind at 280 km/h have transformed the landscape into a landfill," says Sandra Vileila Eleuterio, a nun of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery.
"Trees destroyed, garbage everywhere, holes on the streets. Everything is so ugly, so dirty. It is so sad to see these people walking from one side of the city to the other, who are wet and try to sell their products in order to survive".
Rain and wind have diminished but still affect the region. The sisters welcomed some families who suffered the most from the effects of the storm in their premises. Some of them have lost their homes. "Once the fury of the hurricane passed - continues the nun - some families already returned to their neighborhoods, others are at relatives’ homes. Some support teams have been formed to collect and distribute food."


South Sudan - The Church in Tambura launches the project for a new maternity ward        3-5-19

In South Sudan, because of the civil war that began in 2013, the mortality rate of unborn children and mothers is very high due to the lack of adequate health facilities. The Catholic Church does not remain indifferent: on the occasion of Easter, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, President of the Bishops’ Conference which brings together the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan, officially blessed and launched the project of the new maternity hospital ward of Tambura, realized thanks to a donation from the Italian Bishops' Conference.
This ward will be the second after St. Teresa Nzara hospital, in the diocese of Tambura-Yambio, and will offer health services to the populations of the western equatorial region.


Sri Lanka - The Federation of Asian Bishops: "No to retaliation and revenge: may mutual love prevail”      3-5-19

"The Church is seriously concerned about news of revenge and retaliation against Muslim citizens, refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka. Many have fled from the persecution on their lands and are now being targeted. Nearly 900 cases were reported at risk of retaliation, 150 people were forced to seek shelter in police stations. Terrorism aims to fuel hatred and sow discord, while the enemies of terrorism are love and brotherhood, peace and harmony. Is there a difference between us and terrorists if we target innocent people only out of hatred for diversity?" This was stated in an official note by the President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), Cardinal Charles Maug Bo, Bishop of Yangon (Myanmar), speaking on the situation in Sri Lanka, following the Easter attacks.


Benin - Bishops condemn post-election violence and offer themselves as mediators to overcome the crisis            3-5-19

"We are very worried about the incidents and violence that marked the vote, for the scarce participation of the population in the vote, and for the unimaginable scenes of violence of May 1st", say the Bishops of Benin in their declaration "Stop violence: preserve peace and national unity" published on 3 May.
The elections of April 28th saw a strong abstention of the electorate as a sign of protest for the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENA), to allow the participation in the parliamentary elections only to the two parties, the progressives and the Republicans, close to President Patrice Talon.


Vietnam cathedral's demolition        3-5-19

Architects have asked church leaders in Vietnam’s oldest diocese to conserve an iconic cathedral instead of pulling it down for a new one. But local Catholics and government authorities have backed the diocese’s plan to demolish 134-year-old Bui Chu Cathedral on May 13. Bishop Thomas Vu Dinh Hieu of Bui Chu said the cathedral “is one of the most ancient churches and one of the great religious centres in the diocese.”

The cathedral, built in 1885, which measures 68 meters in length, 16 meters in width and 15 meters in height, has Baroque architecture and keeps relics of many Vietnamese martyrs and bishops who served the diocese.

Indonesians flock to pray before healing heart          3-5-19


Thousands are flocking to see and pray before the heart-relic of St Camillus de Lille.

The saintly relic, contained in a crystal glass case, arrived in Indonesia for the first time on April 2 for a month-long visit after having been in the Philippines for the previous two months.

The relic’s first port of call was Ruteng, where it was displayed at the Camillian Home and then other locations, including parishes, hospitals and an orphanage. Later, it was taken to Maumere, in East Nusa Tenggara’s Sikka district, to be displayed in the cathedral church, a Camillian convent and hospitals there. Thousands of Catholics from the across the province and other regions packed the venues where the saint’s heart relic was displayed.


Malaysia appoints woman as country's top judge     3-5-19

In another first for the country, Malaysia has appointed a female judge as chief justice.

The announcement on May 2 of Maimun Tuan Mat as the country’s top judge, after the post fell vacant last month, is a reassurance that the government’s reform drive remains on track.

Malaysia’s king agreed to Maimun’s appointment as chief justice ending speculation over who would be the next chief justice after the retirement of Richard Malanjum, the nation’s first non-Muslim to hold the top judicial post.

The appointment, announced by the prime minister’s office late on May 2, was welcomed by Malaysian lawyers relieved that the new government of the Muslim-majority nation is not swayed by the tilt towards a more conservative form of Islam under the previous government of scandal-tainted former prime minister Najib Razak.


Mexico - Youth, protection of minors and migrants to the attention of Bishops                4-5-19

"Let us make our own the suffering of the country that continues to suffer violence, insecurity, poverty, inequality, political uncertainty, environmental degradation and social inequality", declared the bishops of the Mexican Bishops' Conference (CEM) at the end of CVII Plenary Assembly.
The 130 Bishops gathered between April 29 and May 3, and said they were "encouraged by the hope of an integral change based on faith, family and education with human and Christian values. Inspired by our Global Pastoral Project 2031 + 2033, which we are progressively starting, we focused our attention on four main themes such as youth, the protection of minors, formation of the clergy and migrants".
On the continuous caravans of migrants the bishops confirmed their will to be a "Samaritan Church, concerned to alleviate as much as possible the pain of migrants."



Pope in Bulgaria recalls Saint John XXIII during Regina Coeli prayer          5-5-19

Pope Francis prayed the Regina Coeli on Sunday in Sofia, calling Bulgaria a “land of encounter”, and remembering his predecessor, Pope Saint John XXIII.

Pope Saint John XXIII lived in Bulgaria for nearly ten years, from 1925 until 1934, while serving as Apostolic Delegate. There he developed a special veneration for Our Lady of Nessebar, whose name means “Gate of Heaven”.

On Sunday, Pope Francis prayed the Regina Coeli before the icon of Our Lady of Nessebar, in Saint Aleksander Nevsky Square, and recalled his predecessor. The Pope said that, in this land of the ‘encounter’, John XXIII learned the tradition of the Eastern Church and the value of ecumenical dialogue.

Before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope reminded those present that “Christ is alive, and He wants you to be alive! He is with you and He never abandons you”. “When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, He will always be there to restore your strength and your hope,” Pope Francis said.

Earlier the Pontiff had arrived at Sofia, Bulgaria, at about 9 o’clock in the morning after a two-hour flight from Rome.

After arrival he met the Prime Minister, he was given an official welcome. He paid a courtesy visit to the president of the country and met the authorities, diplomatic corps and leaders of civil society, visit to the Patriarch and Holy Synod. He was scheduled to say Mass for the Catholic population.

The May 5-7 apostolic journey takes the Pope to Bulgaria and to the Republic of North Macedonia.