CATHOLIC WORLD LAST WEEK
7-13 Jan, 2019
Pope decries nationalism in annual address to diplomatic corps 7-1-18
Pope Francis expressed keen concern about the rise of nationalism in his annual address to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See.
In his January 7 address the Pontiff said that international relations are “experiencing a period of difficulty, with the resurgence of nationalistic tendencies.” He added: “The reappearance of these impulses today is progressively weakening the multilateral system.”
Multilateral accords are essential to maintaining world peace and allowing for development, the Pope told the assembled ambassadors. He deplored “a search for unilateral solutions” and “tendencies to impose and pursue individual national interests without recourse to the instruments provided by international law.”
Pope Francis gave a strong endorsement to international organizations, noting that this year brings the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the League of Nations and lamenting the demise of that organization— a failure that he attributed to “the domination of the powerful over the weak.” He remarked that “the same attitudes are presently threatening the stability of major international organizations.”
The annual papal address to the diplomatic corps is traditionally viewed as the Pontiff’s “state of the world” address, and in accordance with that tradition the Pope mentioned several of the world’s trouble spots, including Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Middle East. He welcomed an easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula, and voiced his hope for similar progress toward peace in Venezuela.
Constantinople formally recognizes independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church 7-1-19
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople issued a tomos recognizing the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church at a ceremony in Istanbul. Metropolitan Epifanyi of Kiev, the newly elected leader of the Ukrainian body, accepted the tomos, with Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko looking on. The Russian Orthodox Church, which bitterly opposed the move, has now condemned the Constantinople patriarchate as “schismatic.”
Angolan government closes over 1,000 churches 7-1-19
The government of President João Lourenço, who assumed office in 2017, is closing churches affiliated with denominations that are not present in at least two-thirds of the nation’s provinces and that have fewer than 100,000 members. The southern African nation of 30.4 million is 41% Catholic and 38% Protestant.
German cardinal urges change, ‘review’ of celibacy tradition 4-1-19
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising called for change in long-standing church tradition as the German bishops' conference prepares for a workshop debate to "review" the issue of celibacy for priests. In his homily at New Year's Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Munich, Cardinal Marx , also the president of German bishops’ conference, said the church must, "in light of the failure" surrounding the clergy sex abuse crisis, modify tradition in response to changing modern times.
The cardinal said that current measures to address sex abuse are not enough without adapting church teachings. The cardinal's statements coincide with plans to openly debate the issue of celibacy at the German bishops' permanent council meeting in the spring. The bishops have said the workshop during the meeting is a direct response to the abuse crisis.
India: Sibling survivors of Orissa pogrom choose consecrated life 7-1-19
Victims of anti-Christian pogrom in the district of Kandhamal in Orissa, India, have decided to serve the Church in consecrated life.
Ten years ago, Hindu nationalists persecuted and destroyed their home in 2008 and along with people of another 50,000 had to flee for life. Fr Anand Pradhan and Sr Anjali Pradhan have another sister, also a nun.
And it is precisely here, where Hindu families have always prevented them from rebuilding their house, that they have returned for a ceremony of reconciliation and thanksgiving. This time though, the whole village has been celebrating.
The ceremony was held in Mundakanga on December 29th: two days earlier, Fr. Anand was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor by Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak [bishop of Berhampur., While Sr. Anjali pronounced her final profession in the society of Saint Anne of Lucerne (SAL). More than 1,500 people, 15 priests and five nuns were present at the festivities. Among the participants, also the seven Christian families and the 80 Hindus of the area. The Hindus paid homage to the newly ordained by donating fruit and other gifts, according to the custom of their religion.
Central African Republic - Comboni Missionaries attacked and robbed in their community 7-1-19
"On 5 January 2019, the Foyer Community of the Comboni Missionary Sisters in Bangui, in Central Africa, was attacked and robbed by a gang of about 8-9 people – said the Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries, Sister Luigia Coccia. There are three Sisters in the Community.
They had finished the prayer of vespers, around 7 pm, when they were attacked, immobilized and threatened for about three hours. The thieves searched everywhere and stole everything they could. The three sisters, in shock, left the mission temporarily and took refuge in the provincial house, also in Bangui".
There have been countless attacks on Catholic communities, parishes, camps hosting refugees, houses and churches burnt down, civilians brutally killed. Five priests were killed in the Central African Republic in 2018.
Egypt - The Imam of al Azhar.at the "inauguration" of the Cathedral and Mosque in the new administrative capital 7-1-19
A delegation of the Sunni University of al Azhar, led by the Grand Imam Ahmed al Tayyb, also took part together with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi at the "official inauguration" of the new Coptic Cathedral and Mosque in the urban area 45 km from Cairo, destined to become the new administrative capital of Egypt. The official inauguration ceremonies, which took place on Sunday 6 January, on the eve of Coptic Christmas, were desired by the Egyptian political leadership as a moment of clear symbolic value to relaunch the image of a country founded on the coexistence among different communities and religious identities, united in common rejection of terrorism and sectarianism that threaten its political and social stability. The inauguration of the Great Mosque was also attended by the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Arab League leader Ahmed Aboul Gheit, while Egyptian singer Angham performed songs praising the coexistence between Muslims and Christians.
In statements released to the Egyptian media on that particular day, Sheikh al Tayyib emphasized among other things that most of the Coptic churches were built after Islam had already spread in Egypt, and that historical data is enough to deny the erroneous and misleading fatwa released by Islamic exponents who condemn and insist on preventing the construction of churches in the lands inhabited by Muslims.
In the evening, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi also spoke at the Coptic Christmas vigil, celebrated in the new cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus.
India - Assembly of India’s Latin-rite Bishops on "The joy of the Gospel" 7-1-19
"The joy of the Gospel" is the central theme of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin-rite, held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, from 8 to 14 January 2019. According to the deputy general secretary of the CCBI, "the bishops will examine detailed plans and action plans to revitalize the ministry of evangelization, starting from the themes of mercy and compassion in the Church". The apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro was to preside over the inaugural concelebrated Mass.
Bishop Raphy Manjaly, Bishop Thomas Dabre,Nishop George Palliparambil, Fr Rudolf Heredia, S.J., Fr. Nigel Barret and Sr. Nirmala S.J.C. are on the list to address the Bishops on various aspects and ways to promote “the Joy of the Gospel” in India.
The Bishops are to evaluate the programmes and plan-out future activities of the CCBI Commissions of Bible, Catechetics, Ecumenism, Family, Laity, Liturgy, Migration, Women and Youth and the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Dominican Republic - After 525 years, faith must always be "announced with courage and lived with love" 7-1-19
The many sufferings of the Haitian people who continue to suffer are reason of concern. Haitians have been welcomed by the Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic "because they are brothers who need to feel they are part of a family": these are the sentiments expressed by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, the special envoy of the Pope. In his homily on Saturday 5 January in Puerto Plata, he recalled the first Mass celebrated in America 525 years ago, 6 January 1494.
Cardinal Rosa Chavez greeted the faithful in the name of the Holy Father and urged them to always "proclaim the Catholic faith courageously and to live it with love", as recommended by the Holy Father himself. The celebration also closed the Year of the Eucharist 2018.
Saudi teen dodges Thai deportation bid 7-1-19
A Saudi teenager being held at a Thai airport while seeking refugee status overseas narrowly escaped being sent back to the Middle East on Monday (7-1-19) morning, thanks to the intervention of German embassy, according to tweets from Human Rights Watch, a close friend, and other parties.
Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun has been seeking asylum in various countries due to fears her family would torture or even kill her for renouncing Islam, a Sydney-based friend of the woman told Britain's The Guardian. Al-Qunun was transiting to Australia when she was stopped in Bangkok.
According to this friend, Thai authorities were planning to have the 18-year-old board a Kuwait Airways flight to Kuwait at 11.15am (Thai time) on Monday.
Al-Qunun was holidaying with family in Kuwait several days earlier when she made her daring escape bid, according to reports.
Eco-spirituality centre a 'Garden of Eden' in Delhi 7-1-19
The Delhi Archdiocese has set up an eco-spirituality centre for meditation on the edge of the capital powered by renewable energy that features quake-proof cottages, an organic diet and farm animals.
It is called Ish Vatika (the Garden of God) and is managed by Father Stanley Kozhichira, national president of the Catholic media organization Signis India.
Located on two-and-half acres of lush farmland, it is far from the madding city crowd and is populated with cows, goats, dogs, chicken and ducks. There are flowers and trees as well as an artificially created pond.
The project was started in 2014 and began functioning in 2018. When fully completed, it will have 10 cottages where people can spend days rejuvenating their spiritual life. Solar panels are plastered around to provide electricity. Soon windmills will be installed. There is also a biogas digester system to turn human waste into gas and water, said the priest.
Church fights Vietnam land grabbing 7-1-19
A retired bishop and priests in Vietnam have called on people evicted from their farms to join wider efforts to build a more just society.
On Jan. 4, hundreds of police and officials destroyed farmers' houses on five hectares of land in Tan Binh district in southern Vietnam. About a dozen people were detained after roads leading to the scene were blocked.
Many locals gathered to pray before a Marian statue nearby and some priests visited victims of the raid. Authorities accused people who have cultivated crops there for 65 years of illegally building houses on land needed for the building of schools and other public facilities. 84 houses were targeted to be destroyed.
Philippine bishop condemns poor disaster response 7-1-19
An archbishop has criticized a lack of help and compassion extended to victims of floods and landslides brought about by a storm in the Philippines last week.
The recent disaster brought "pain and untold misery" especially to those in Camarines Sur province said Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres Archdiocese, who issued an appeal for more aid to affected victims. Late warnings of impending disaster worsened the death toll, said the Archbishop, adding that even the government was caught unaware.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Jan. 7 that the number of people killed as a result of the tropical storm that hit the Bicol region stood at 126. At least 60 people were injured, while 26 remained missing. An estimated 624,230 people were affected by the disaster, according to the agency. Of this number, 57,786 people were in 119 evacuation centres. Around 6,000 homes were also reported damaged.
China Plans to Make Islam 'Compatible with Socialism' within 4 years as Muslims remain In Re-Education Camps 7-1-19
China has passed new legislation that aims to make Islam “more compatible with socialism” within a four- to five-year timeframe, the latest move in a series of crackdowns on the world’s largest nation’s minority Muslim population.
The policy will be to “Sinicize”—a term meaning to make something more Chinese – Muslims in the East Asian country. State media reported in the weekend that the country’s communist government had met leaders from eight Islamic associations to formulate the plan. Following those discussions, Chinese officials "agreed to guide Islam to be compatible with socialism and implement measures to Sinicize the religion.”
Pope sends video message as Coptic Orthodox Church dedicates new cathedral near Cairo 6-1-19
Pope Francis has sent a video message to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, also the occasion of the dedication of the new Cathedral of the Nativity erected in the new administrative capital near Cairo. The liturgy was attended by the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Irish archbishop cautions pro-life protesters 7-1-19
An Irish archbishop criticized pro-life activists’ peaceful efforts to save unborn babies under the country’s new abortion regime.
“I’m not a person personally for protest, what the Church should be doing is strengthening its resolve to help women in crisis and to educate people,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said in an RTE Radio One interview on Sunday.
“I would be particularly cautious about protesting against GPs (general practitioners) because everybody is going there, and people go there for all sorts of reasons,” he said. He also said the government should protect conscientious objection. "We have a constitution which protects freedom of expression. Everybody has a right to make a protest."
As of New Year’s Day, abortion has been legal in the Irish Republic after a landslide referendum vote in 2018 that struck down previous prohibitions.
Diplomatic Corps to Pope: Grateful for ministry on behalf of humanity 7-1-19
It was the first time the Ambassador of Cyprus, George Poulides, addressed Pope Francis as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. He did so on behalf of his colleagues, representing some 183 States that currently have diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
Ambassador Poulides focused primarily on Pope Francis’ “tireless commitment to the defense of human dignity”, calling it the “cornerstone on which to build a truly just, free and peaceful world”.
Speaking in French, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps confirmed how much still needs to be done to guarantee human rights: he listed poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, new forms of slavery, limitations to religious freedom, environmental degradation, and the nuclear threat, as some of the “dramatic challenges that must be constantly met”.
Finally, Ambassador Poulides thanked Pope Francis for his ministry on behalf of humanity, and recalled his special attention to young people.
Stockholm cardinal: pray for converts to Christianity who face deportation 7-1-19
‘It is regrettable that those who have found the way to Christian faith are no longer shown acceptance and empathy in our country,” Cardinal Anders Arborelius wrote in his Epiphany letter. The cardinal also called for prayer for international and domestic peace, as Sweden faces “profound contradictions and difficulties.”
Germany: Federal President and Chancellor Merkel meet Star Singers 7-1-19
The German Federal institutions met the Sternsinger (Star Singers) at the end of their journey through the streets of Germany. Indeed, on the day dedicated to them, the Epiphany, 39 little singing Magi from the Diocese of Trier were received by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Bellevue presidential palace in Berlin. The presidential residence, usually closed on Sundays, was open on 6 January for the festive reception, coinciding with the Feast of the Epiphany. The money raised by the 300,000 Star Singers will go to projects supportingthe schooling of Peruvian children with walking disabilities.
80th Birthday greetings to Kiko Argüello 8-1-19
At the end of Mass on 8 January at his residence, Domus Santae Martae, Pope Francis sent warm greetings to Kiko Argüello for his 80th birthday on January 9th. The Pope thanked the cofounder of the Neocatechumenal Way for “the apostolic zeal with which he works for the Church.” Argüello and Carmen Hernandez founded the lay movement in Madrid in 1964.
Head of pontifical academy chides Europe’s leaders over migrants stranded at sea 8-1-19
Europe’s leaders “guide 27 nations, with 500 million people, and [they] are not capable of making a decision over 49 people,” said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in reference to the plight of migrants stranded for weeks at sea. “The Holy Father is right because when the fear of losing votes is greater than love and solidarity, society becomes uncivilized.” Another Church-leader, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, offered to take in the migrants in hisown diocese.
Papal message calls on Church in India to bear fruits of faith and charity 8-1-19
The Pope “prays that your discussions may bear much fruit in your service of God's people, as they strive to grow in faith and charity,” said Vatican Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin’s message addressed to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the head of the Latin rite bishops of India (CCBI). “Fortified by a deepened personal relationship with the Saviour, and sustained by the grace of the sacraments, may all the faithful in India live out their vocation joyfully and generously,” the message read. The week-long meeting of the CCBI held near Chennai will conclude on 14 January.
The Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro presided over a solemn Eucharistic celebration on Jan. 8 inaugurating the meeting on the theme: Joy of the Gospel.
The Latin-rite Church conference with a membership of 189 bishops in 132 dioceses is the largest bishop’s conference in Asia and fourth in the world.
Jesuit Refugee Service says 2018 not easy for refugees 8-1-19
“2018 saw the Mediterranean become a watery grave for over 2,100 refugees and migrants,” said Father Tom Smolich, SJ. “Pope Francis’s invitation to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate forcibly displaced people has fallen on deaf ears in many places, including parts of the Catholic Church.” Registration may be required for access.
Cambodia - The family, a sign of love for society: towards the extraordinary missionary month 8-1-19
"Let us enter the Year dedicated to the family and in June 2019 we will hold a large diocesan gathering of families. In October there will be a "special mission", in the extraordinary missionary Month desired by Pope Francis, during which we will reflect on how our families can be signs of God's love for all in our society": this is what Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, said recalling some experiences of his community and projecting the pastoral work in 2019. He has insisted on the concepts: fidelity, love given and received, hope, life, dignity. "During the year 2019 - hopes the Vicar for the local Church – let us become an open and fruitful community and people will be happy to meet and find a great loving and welcoming family".
Pakistan - The Islamabad Declaration: "a step to defeat extremism" 8-1-19
"The Declaration of Islamabad is a step in the right direction. We need to develop it to improve the image of the country: this is the way forward: government and opposition must work together to legislate on good policies, while civil society, religious communities and all citizens must work together for the social, civil and cultural progress of our country": this is what Fr. Bonnie Mendes, expert, Pakistani Catholic priest of Faisalabad, former regional coordinator of Caritas Asia says, commenting on the publication of the "Islamabad Declaration", in which over 500 Muslim religious leaders publicly condemn terrorism, violence committed in the name of religion and fatwa (sacred edicts) widespread by radical Ulemas.
The declaration was signed in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, during a gathering organized by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC). The initiative, according to observers, represents a turning point especially in the attitude towards religious minorities and Islamic sect the "Ahmadi".
Bolivia - Priest stabbed by thieves who entered the parish 8-1-19
Fr. Adam Bravo Mendoza, 78-year-old diocesan priest, of La Santa Cruz parish in the city of Trinidad, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Beni in Bolivia, was stabbed by some criminals who tried to steal the alms collected during the Sunday Masses.
"The priest was wounded with a knife by three people, one of them a lady, who entered La Santa Cruz parish breaking the glass of the main door and wanted to steal the money" said the commander of the Civil Police Support Group (GACIP), Dixson Escalante.
Fr. Adam was wounded in the abdomen with a knife by one of the assailants on the evening of Sunday, January 6, and was admitted to a hospital of the Trinidad Health Fund, where he underwent surgery. One suspect is arrested. However, one who stabbed the priest is yet to be traced.
Nicaragua - Nicaragua crisis returns to OAS on January 11 8-1-19
Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua and president of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN), after Mass last Sunday, 6 January, said that it will be necessary to analyze and implement the necessary changes within the country, according to the observations that will come from the next meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS).
On Friday, 11 January, the Permanent Council of OAS is to meet in Washington to discuss the Nicaraguan crisis, at the request of the Secretary General of the organization, Luis Almagro.
Muslims slam India's verbal divorce bill as campaign ploy 8-1-19
Opposition to India's move to criminalize verbal divorce among Muslims with triple ‘talaq’ continued in early January after the governing pro-Hindu party sought to push a bill through parliament last month that would outlaw the practice, which is still prevalent among Muslims.
The lower house (Lok Sabha), in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys a majority, passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, on Dec. 28 despite the opposition staging a walkout. The bill will go to the Upper House for approval.
The bill, which seeks jail sentences of up to three years for any Muslim man who divorces his wife verbally, has sparked a backlash from groups that see it as oppressive, religiously motivated, and discriminatory against Muslims. The BJP has been promoting the bill as a flashcard for social justice and a giant leap forward for the protection of Muslim women's rights.
Ditch bags, prelate tells Catholics as plastic woes grow 8-1-19
Months after Indonesia's military was summoned to unclog Jakarta Bay, Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo has joined a chorus of disapproval of the nation's growing plastic waste problem by calling parishioners to action.
Through a video messaged shown across all parishes nationwide from Jan. 5-6, the church-leader appealed to all Catholics to reduce their use of plastic and plastic bags due to their harmful impact on the environment.
About 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the world's oceans every year, the United Nations Environment Program said last December. Indonesia deals with about 64 million tons of plastic a year, Jakarta alone accounting for 11%, 3.2 million tons of which end up in the ocean, environmental groups say.
Black Nazarene devotees feed homeless in Manila 8-1-19
A group of Black Nazarene devotees, the image of which is housed inside the church, started distributing hot meals to a number of people on 11 Jan 19, Friday. The Nazarene devotees have been feeding Manila's homeless people outside the church each Friday for 14 years.
Renato Liwanag, one of those who started the distribution of meals to the poor, said sharing food is his way of celebrating his devotion to the Nazarene. Volunteers prepare rice meals for lunch and the signature congee with bread in the afternoon from money sollicited from friends and well-meaning donours.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said religious devotion should be a reminder that everybody should do acts that demonstrate mercy and compassion.
Islamic State flag desecrates Kashmir mosque 8-1-19
Muslims in India's Jammu and Kashmir state have joined to wash clean a mosque after it was desecrated by Islamic State supporters who waved the militant organization's flag inside it.
Muslims in droves congregated at Jamia Masjid in the city of Srinagar on Jan. 4 and took part in the cleaning before Friday prayers. On the previous Friday, Dec. 29, a group of masked youths moved to the chief cleric's seat and waived the flag of the so-called Islamic State, the global terrorist organization seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate.
A video of the incident that went viral showed a masked youth waiving the group's flag while others chanted slogans. One person was seen trying to stand on the chief cleric's chair and fix the flag on it.
The incident was shocking and has deeply hurt the sentiments of the people in this Muslim majority state, according to Sheikh Ghulam Hassan, a senior member of the mosque's management committee. "Such elements not only malign the name of Islam but also abuse it."
Kashmir separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik said in a joint statement that there are attempts to high-jack Kashmir's freedom movement and link it with a global agenda.
Sri Lankan cartoonist sends social message in movie 8-1-19
Camillus Perera, a devout Catholic, is one of the most famous cartoonists in Sri Lanka with over 50 years of experience in the field; he is running a printing business in Colombo and is preparing for the release of Sri Lanka's first computer-animation picture, which has been in the works for the last eight years. It is due out in March and will feature Gajaman — the character that propelled him to fame.
man is a full-length movie. The script was written by Suneth Perera and required the use of 28 voices. It was produced by Studio 101 and revolves around social issues with a political twist
Muslim clerics denounce radicalism in Pakistan 8-1-19
More than 500 Muslim clerics gathered in the Pakistani city of Islamabad to condemn terrorism and radicalism. Clerics at the Seerat-i-Rehmatul Aalameen Conference on Jan. 6 issued the 7-point Islamabad Declaration which in part condemned murders committed "on the pretext of religious belief." Such acts they said were against the teachings of Islam.
Also included in the declaration was the statement that any Islamic sectarian group could not be declared as infidel. "No one — Muslim or non-Muslim — can be declared as punishable by death. Only courts could deliver a death sentence," it said.
The declaration likewise recognized that Pakistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. It also stated that it is the government's obligation to firmly deal with those who threaten the sacred places of non-Muslims. The document made a special mention of Catholic mother Asia Bibi who was acquitted of blasphemy on Oct. 30, 2018.
Imam foils deadly attack against church on the eve of Coptic Christmas 9-1-19
A bomb attack against a church in east Cairo was averted thanks to the prompt action of a Muslim cleric, Imam Saad Askar, who called the police.
When the bomb squad tried to dismantle the devices, one exploded killing a bomb disposal expert.
Visiting the church afterwards, Imam Askar said: “We have to stand by each other’s side and take care of each other. Those who target places of worship have no religion and are neither Muslim nor Christian”.
The incident took place on 6 January Saturday at the end of the celebrations for Coptic Orthodox Christmas at the Church of the Virgin Mary and Abu Seifin in Ezbat al-Haganah, Nasr City, an eastern suburb of the Egyptian capital. Two al-Azhar students told the imam about a stranger with a suitcase. Together with mosque worker Gouda Shaaban Khalifa, 63, Imam Askar ran after him, but he fled the scene leaving behind a trolley case. The mosque lies just opposite the church. The imam was thus able to warn people at the church, urging them to leave.
Philippines - Over 5 million pilgrims at the Black Nazarene feast 9-1-19
More than five million devotees attended the "Traslacion", the annual procession featuring the image of theBlackNazarene, which started on January 9th, with a prayer vigil during the night.
The theme of the "2019 Traslacion" is "Devotees of the Lord Jesus the Nazarene: chosen to serve him". The peak of the program is the traditional procession through the streets of Manila with a statue, in black wood, depicting Christ carrying the cross towards the Calvary. Thousands of believers converge from all over the country to Manila to attend this feast.
Indonesia - For the Church of Jakarta 2019 is "the Year of wisdom" 9-1-19
The Archdiocese of Jakarta officially declares that 2019 will be "The Year of Wisdom". The pastoral focus will be directed above all to social issues and how to face them and live them with the Gospel spirit, according to the message of Christ. Solemnly announcing 2019 the "Year of Wisdom", Archbishop Ignazio Suharyo invited two important Catholic figures to speak during a pastoral event held in Jakarta on January 5: the Jesuit and professor of philosophy Fr. Franco Magnis-Suseno and economics professor Rhenald Kasali, lecturer at the University of Indonesia.
Hundreds of Catholics from the 67 parishes of the Archdiocese of Jakarta participated in the event, paying attention to the fact that 2019 will be, among other things, marked by the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for next April.
Cardinal Zen defends the Vatican in choosing Cardinal John Tong as Hong Kong’s apostolic administrator 10-1-19
Bishop Michael Yeung, installed as Hong Kong’s bishop in August 2017, died on January 3 at the age of 73. Cardinal Joseph Zen governed the diocese from 2002 to 2009; Cardinal John Tong Hon, from 2009 to 2017. Cardinal Zen has defended the appointment of Cardinal John Tong as Hong Kong’s apostolic administrator.
Worldwide threat to missionaries set to worsen, religious warn 10-1-19
The number of priests, religious and lay people being persecuted for spreading the Faith will continue to worsen, missionaries across Ireland have said.
While Christians should always remain hopeful, Fr Fachtna O’Driscoll SMA, Superior General of the Society of African Missions, told The Irish Catholic that the number of missionaries being killed globally will continue to increase, given how weak security has become in many countries.
Fr O’Driscoll, who served in Nigeria for a number of years, added that the African continent is the most “unstable” at the moment, which is why so many missionaries are persecuted there
One of the superiors of the religious orders working in Africa present at the conference said: “The missionary, no less than any other Christian, is called to stand for justice, and to stand for rights and to stand for the dignity of the other person whatever the cost,” said one.
As Ecuador debates abortion legalization, bishops call for defence of unborn life 10-1-19
As Ecuador considers legalizing abortion in cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormality, the bishops said that the defense of unborn human life ought to transcend the progressive/conservative political divide. The South American nation of 16.5 million is 74% Catholic and 10% Protestant.
Germany to curb mosque funding from Gulf states 10-1-19
The German government may impose a tax on Muslims—similar to the tax paid by Catholics and Protestants—to make mosques less financially dependent on funds from Turkey and other nations.
Niger - Tensions and violence in the area adjacent to the mission of Father Maccalli 10-1-19
There are reports of current military operations against Boko Haram. "The affected region is that of the extreme south-east of the country, in the area of Lake Chad, on the border with Nigeria and Chad", says Father Marco Pada of the Society for African Missions. "In particular - continues the missionary - according to a statement by the Ministry of Defence, the banks of the river Komadougou and some islands of the lake are the areas most affected by the violence. Some 300 terrorists have been killed in air strikes and ground actions.
Father Marco points out that "attacks on positions of the government army and security forces by armed groups, probably related to jihadism, do not cease in the department of Torodi, about 60 km east of the capital of Niamey, and not far from Bomoanga.
DR Congo - Strong protests after the announcement of Tshisekedi's victory in the presidential elections, however results will be accepted 10-1-19
On the night between 9 and 10 January the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) declared Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the Congolese presidential elections on 30 December. He obtained just over 7 million votes (38.57?) against Martin Fayulu Madidi (who obtained 34.83% of the votes cast) and the candidate of the outgoing President's party, Joseph Kabila, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary who obtained 23.84%.
Félix Tshisekedi is the son of the historic Congolese opponent, Étienne Tshisekedi, who died in Brussels on 1 February 2017. His victory, however, was immediately contested by the other main opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu Madidi, who states that the results have been manipulated.
The Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo said that they "take note of the publication of the provisional results of the presidential election which - they underline - "for the first time in the recent history of our country, opens the way to change at the top of the State". "However, from the analysis of the elements observed by this mission, we find that the results of the presidential election do not correspond to the data collected by our observation mission from the polling and counting stations".
The situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is somewhat calm though skirmishes are is some places. The victory of Felix Tshisekedi seems to overshadow the unrest. Though the results announced do not tally with the Bishops’ election-observers’ findings and there were still malpractices in the election process, the election results will be accepted by the people and the country will go ahead.” This is the opinion some religious people.
20 former Latin American presidents question papal statement on Venezuela 10-1-19
Twenty former presidents of Latin American countries have published an open letter to Pope Francis, criticizing his reference to the crisis in Venezuela in his speech to the Vatican diplomatic corps. By urging moves toward reconciliation in Venezuela, without denouncing the Maduro regime, the Pope’s speech “could be interpreted as a request to the people who are victims to agree with their aggressors,” the letter notes. The letter was organized by Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Pope pays surprise visit to cloistered nuns in Umbria 10-1-19
Pope Francis made a surprise visit on10 January Friday to a group of Poor Clare nuns at their Monastery in the central Italian region of Umbria
Pope Francis visited the nuns of the Vallegloria Monastery in Spello. During the private and informal visit, the Pope celebrated Mass together with Bishop Gualtiero Sigismondi of Foligno, spent some time speaking freely and informally to the religious and then had lunch together.
Pakistan - Cardinal Coutts: "We are in a phase of hope: let us work together for peace in Pakistan" 10-1-19
"We are living a phase of hope: this meeting is an occasion to spread the message of hope and work together for peace in the country. Peace will not come only thanks to a wish, but by working and building it together": said Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, who participated in an ecumenical gathering organized by the Christian communities in Karachi on the occasion of the new year 2019. Speaking to those present, members of various Christian communities as well as other religious communities such as Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Bahai, the Cardinal said: "We are all called to live in unity, if we do not know each other, we cannot live in peace and unity and our mission to spread harmony and reconciliation will be less effective".
The Archbishop of Karachi quoted the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in his famous speech in 1947, when he reiterated that religious minorities are free to follow their religion and attend their places of worship in Pakistan.
Lebanon: Statistical projections: the demographic decline of the Christian population has stopped 10-1-19
Accredited international scientific studies on the demographic changes in Lebanon show that the decline of the Christian component will stop in the coming decades. These scientific projections were welcomed with relief in Lebanese ecclesial circles.
The last official census carried out in Lebanon is that of 1932. At that time, there were 875,252 inhabitants in the Land of Cedars, and 53% of them were Christians. Currently Christians - Maronites and others - represent 38% of those entitled to vote in parliamentary elections in Lebanon.
Disabled Vietnam veterans evicted from church-run home 10-1-19
More than 100 homes — including a church-run home for disabled war veterans — were forcibly demolished by state officials in southern Vietnam.
Those living in the dwellings, most of whom are Catholic, said they were given little or no warning about the demolitions in L?c H?ng near Ho Chi Minh City. Authorities from Tan Binh district "completely knocked down 112 illegally built houses" on a plot of land on Jan. 4 and Jan. 8 the state-run Tuoitre newspaper reported. The publication quoted district officials who accused local people of illegally trading the land which the government said it has plans to use for building schools and public facilities.
Overseas media reports stated some 300 police took part in the operation that included the use of bulldozers. Among the destroyed buildings was a Redemptorists owned house that was home to 18 war veterans who lost limbs in the Vietnam War. The veterans have no relatives and sell lottery tickets for a living.
Venezuelan bishops: new presidential term for Maduro is not legitimate 11-1-19
The Catholic bishops of Venezuela have declared that the January 10 inauguration of President Nicholas Maduro for a new term has no legitimacy. In a public statement the bishops call for the restoration of representative and constitutional government. They call attention to the desperate plight of their nation, wracked by hunger and violence.
Unity of Catholics and Orthodox is not utopian thinking, Ukrainian Catholic leader says 11-1-19
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic patriarch, Sviatoslav Shevnuk, has said that there are optimistic prospects for the unification of Ukrainian Christians-Catholic and Orthodox, now that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is completely autonomous and can take decisions on its own and the oneness of purpose to serve Ukraine unite the Churches together.
Until recently, Ukraine’s Orthodox faithful were divided into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate), and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, with only the first canonically recognized by other Orthodox churches. After the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which holds a primacy of honour in Eastern Orthodoxy, signaled it would grant canonical recognition, the latter two bodies united to form the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Syria - Assad promises to rebuild the memorial church of the Armenian Genocide in Deir ez-Zor 11-1-19
Syrian President Bashar al Assad has pledged to rebuild with state funding the church-sanctuary of the Armenian martyrs located in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, which was devastated by the jihadists of the Islamic State (Daesh ) in September 2014. In September 2014 the jihadists of Daesh conquered about half of the urban area of Deir ez-Zor, an eastern Syrian city with a Kurdish majority, and a few days later destroyed the church where the remains of the victims of the Armenian Genocide were kept.
The church was consecrated in 1991 as a memorial of the Genocide and also included a museum with the remains of the victims of the massacres suffered by the Armenians in Ottoman territory between 1915 and 1916.
Guatemala - The Bishops: the already fragile State of law in the Country is in danger, it is necessary to respect the Constitution 11-1-19
Huge concern and great indignation in the face of the events which took place in past days", were expressed by the Bishops of Guatemala in a statement signed on 10 January by the President of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, Bishop Gonzalo de Villa Vasquez of Sololà-Chimaltenango, and by the Secretary General, Bishop Domingo Buezo Leiva of Izabal.
Tension increased in Guatemala following President Jimmy Morales' decision to expel the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig), a decision blocked by the Constitutional Court. Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango had pointed out that Morales's provision "undermines the rule of law and compromises respect due to the laws of the country ... it halts the process started and the decisions agreed in the peace agreements", including the dismantling of criminal organizations within the state and the fight against corruption and impunity.
Philippine Protestant churches welcome new law on HIV-AIDS 11-1-19
Protestant churches in the Philippines have welcomed a new government policy that makes health services for people with HIV/AIDs more accessible.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines described the new law as "a great step forward towards recognition of the sanctity of life, especially among those who battle HIV and AIDS."
Carleen Nomorosa, program coordinator of the council, said Christian communities have to get involved in the awareness campaign and implementation of the new law.
Australian bishop condemns mass eviction in Vietnam 11-1-19
A Vietnamese-born Australian bishop has roundly condemned the recent destruction of more than 100 homes, including a church-run one for disabled war veterans, by state officials in southern Vietnam.
"I learned with great sorrow of the destruction of your beloved homes and properties by the authorities in Ho Chi Minh City," Bishop Vincent Nguyen Van Long of Parramatta in Australia told the victims in an open letter.
Bishop Long, who was born in Vietnam before fleeing the communist country by boat in 1979, said the cleared land belongs to generations of people who moved from the north 65 years ago. The residents now are low-income workers, college students, former prisoners of conscience and disabled war veterans.
Myanmar – Pathein diocese consucts seminar on family spirituality 12-1-19
Pathein diocese in the extreme south of Myanmar conducted a for married couples for 118 persons from 15 parishes of the country with the view to strengthen family life.
At the end of the workshop, the director Fr Pradeep Roy felt the participants questions over all the issues discussed. For many the informations given were an eye-opener. The participants cleared their doubts and realised that the partners opinions and feelings do really matter for a harmonious and religious family life.
Mexico – I intend searching for peace, even meeting the chiefs of armed groups, says Bishop
I intend to continue meeting persons of organized crime all the times it may be necessary if only that reduces the crime rate in some parts of the country, says Bishop Salvador Rangel of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, Mexico’s Guerrero state, exasperated that he is with crimes of drug traffickers. Bishop Mendoza has even established contacts with some bandit-chiefs and says meetings have helped to ward off violence in a few dangerous areas of the country.
Pope: History helps us reflect on the past and shows us the way forward 12-1-19
Pope Francis addressed on 12 January 2019 Professors of Church History inviting them to continue to contribute to the contemplation of Christ: “the cornerstone, who works in the history and memory of humanity and of all cultures”. They were members of the Italian Academic Association of Church History at the end of a Conference marking its 50th anniversary. “History” the Pope said, “if studied with passion” would have a lot to teach today’s society which is so “disjointed and thirsty for truth, peace and justice”.
He then said the ability to see the presence of Christ and the Church's journey through history “makes us humble, and removes us from the temptation to seek refuge in the past in order to avoid the present”. Pope Francis concluded his address inviting those present to continue to contribute to the contemplation of Christ: “the cornerstone, who works in the history and memory of humanity and of all cultures”
Pope Francis at Baptism Mass: ‘Faith is transmitted in the home’ 13-1-19
During Mass on the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord, Pope Francis baptized 27 new-born babies, He reminded them in his Mass homily on the parental duty of transmitting the faith to the next generation. But, Pope Francis said, “this faith must be developed; it must grow.”
Before children study the faith in catechism classes, he said, their parents must transmit it at home, “because the faith is always transmitted ‘in dialect’,” that is, the native language spoken in the environs of the home.
The Pope said parents transmit the faith through their example and words, and by teaching their children to make the Sign of the Cross. He said the faith must be transmitted “with your faith-filled lives”, so children see married love and peace within the family home. “May they see Jesus there.” “Never fight in front of your children,” he advised. “Do it, but without letting them hear or see.” He also advised the mothers to breastfeed their babies.
Pope at Angelus: ‘Remember date of your Baptism’ 13-1-19
At the Sunday noon Angelus prayer meeting, Pope Francis urged each of us to remember the date of our Baptism, and reflected on Jesus’ two-fold immersion at his own Baptism in the Jordan.
The Pope’s invitation came as the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord.
Reflecting on the readings at Mass, Pope Francis said Jesus underwent a two-fold immersion at his Baptism.
First, Jesus was immersed in the crowd, he said. “He unites himself to them, thus completely assuming the human condition, sharing everything with them, except sin.”
The Pope said Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan is also an epiphany, because it takes place “in the midst of the penitent people”, where Jesus “manifests the logic and the sense of his mission.”
He said Jesus shared the people’s “profound desire for interior renewal.”
After being immersed in the water of the Jordan, the Pope said, Jesus was “immersed in prayer, that is, in communion with the Father;” this shows that Jesus through constant and perfect union with the Father and the Spirit begins his mission of manifesting God’s love for humanity with his Baptism.
The Pope said the Baptism of the Lord is an opportunity to renew our own baptismal promises, “committing ourselves to live daily in a manner consistent with it.”