9-15 Ap, 2018


‘Gaudete et Exsultate’: Pope issues apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world         9-4-18


Gaudate et Exsultate: On the Call for Holiness in our Modern World was published on 9 April, marking Pope Francis’ 3rd Apostolic Exhortation after Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia.

The five-chapter, 98-page document can be considered somewhat of a practical handbook on how to help us achieve holiness in the circumstances of our ordinary lives. The chapters include: 1) The Call to Holiness 2) Two Subtle Enemies of Holiness 3) In the Light of the Master 4) Signs of Holiness in Today’s World 5) Spiritual Combat, Vigilance and Discernment.

Reflecting on saints, the Pope speaks specifically of the saints ‘next door:’ he stressed, “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant. A holiness found in our next-door neighbors, the middle class of holiness.”

Our call to holiness, it asserts, is a constant battle. If we do not realize this, it warns, we “will be prey to failure or mediocrity.” Yet, it suggests, we can count on “the powerful weapons” God has given us, including prayer, meditation, Mass, Confession, Eucharistic adoration, charitable acts and community outreach.

While recalling some of the saints’ great examples, including St Francis of Assisi, St John Paul II, and Edith Stein, the Pope provides advice on how we can be good Christians.

The answer is clear, he says: “We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.”

The Pope notes we need strength and courage to reject the devil’s temptations–those “dangers and limitations that distract and debilitate”– and to proclaim the Gospel. Pope Francis also warns against that which impedes our call to holiness, such as hedonism and consumerism, noting they “can prove our downfall.”

Pope Francis concludes the work, stating: “It is my hope that these pages will prove helpful by enabling the whole Church to devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness.”

US Catholics’ Church attendance resumes downward slide            9-4-18

According to a multiple Gallup survey, weekly church attendance has declined among US Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

Fewer than four in 10 Catholics attend church in any given week

Catholic attendance is down six percentage points over the past decade

Protestant attendance steady, but fewer Americans now identify as Protestants

younger adults, particularly those aged 21 to 29, are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic. About 33% of this age group identifies itself with ‘no religion.’

However, the overall proportion of Americans identifying as Catholic is holding fairly steady.


Rome conference regrets confusion, affirms traditional Church teachings            9-4-18

Meeting in Rome to address confusion generated in the Catholic world by the statements of Pope Francis, a group of bishops, priests, and lay people concluded with a public statement affirming the traditional teachings of the Church regarding marriage and the Eucharist. The signatories lamented that “discontent and confusion are spreading among the faithful throughout the world,” and called upon all bishops to “confirm us in the faith.”


Number of Christians in Syria hits new low                 9-4-18

“The Christian population in Syria has fallen from 1.4 million in 2011 to an estimated 450,000, as a result of migration brought on by violence and persecution,” according to reports.


Pakistan - Christian and Muslim leaders: solidarity with Christian families thrown out from their homes             9-4-18


Full solidarity with Christian families in the district of Narowal, in Punjab, thrown out from their property and abused in their rights after the violent action of some influential Muslim personalities: this is what was expressed in a statement by the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Pakistan. The Commission, made up of Muslim and Christian religious leaders, went to Narowal, led by Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap (NCIDE Executive Secretary) and Muslim leader Muhammad Asim Makhdoom. There were numerous other Christian and Muslim representatives who "firmly condemned the brutal act and demanded justice", underlining "the need for immediate legal action". The Commission also assured victims of all possible cooperation and promised to provide legal assistance.

More than 50 Christian families were forcibly thrown out from their homes on April 1st and now they are refugees, homeless. 

Mexico - For the first time the Bishops address the citizens of Mexico and United States "for the dignity of migrants"             9-4-18


In a "statement made on 8 April by the Bishops of Mexico's northern border and the Council of Presidency of the Mexican Bishops' Conference" it is emphasized that the Catholic Church "cannot ignore the suffering of our migrant brothers and sisters who seek better living conditions when they cross the border to work and contribute to the common good not only of their families, but also of the brother country that receives them".

This is the first time in history that the Bishops address the citizens of Mexico and the United States, regardless of their religious convictions, and in a special way and with great respect, make a statement to the Presidents of their respective Countries, “because of the deployment of the troops of the North American National Guard on the border that delimits our territories".


Don't exploit religion, say Indian faith leaders            9-4-18

Leaders of six major religions in India have made a joint call to end branding people as patriotic or unpatriotic based on religion amid increasing attempts to exploit religious sentiments for political purposes ahead of a crucial election.

Leaders of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim and Sikh communities gathered on April 5 in the western state of Goa to express their distress at communal tension in several areas of the country.

Local reports suggest tensions are politically engineered to divide people on the lines of religion and caste as rival political parties project themselves as champions of sectarian interests. The election in April 2019 is crucial for both the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to retain power and for rival Congress to emerge from its lost political prominence.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, said at least 270 sectarian incidents, including vandal attacks on churches, were reported in the past two years.


Philippine church groups launch network for poor         9-4-18

Catholic and Protestant church groups in the Philippines have launched an ecumenical solidarity network that aims to promote "political consciousness" among the poor.

The Anawim Mission Network, launched in Manila on April 6, is the result of a gathering of church groups to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The churches have promised to share their social capital, organizational structures and material and financial resources with the poor. The inter-faith group has partnered with tribal groups and organizations of farmers and workers.


Survivor recounts horror of Pakistan gun attack          9-4-18

A survivor of Pakistan gun attack, Kinza Emmanuel, recounts how four of her family members were gunned down in a Christian colony of southern Pakistan. 

"We were going to eat ice cream and my mother and three uncles were already inside the tuk-tuk (driven by one of the uncles). Suddenly two men, whose faces were covered in a white cloth, riding a motorcycle arrived in our street," the 16-year-old Catholic said. "After taking a turn, they opened fire at us. I rushed my siblings inside and locked the gates. My father ran outside but they had died. We could not do anything."

The attack happened on April 2 in the Shah Zaman area of Quetta, the capital of restive Balochistan province. The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.


UN appeals for humanitarian access in Myanmar's restive regions             9-4-18

A U.N. official has called for unfettered humanitarian access to several crisis-hit states of Myanmar including restive Rakhine where large numbers of the Rohingya Muslim minority have fled security forces for Bangladesh since August.

Ursula Mueller, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement April 8 it was not only a problem in Rakhine State but also in Kachin and Shan States where some humanitarian aid efforts have been hampered. Government so far only allows World Food Program and Red Cross into Rakhine State.




Syrian prelate charges Russia, US are prolonging fighting           10-4-18

Bishop Georges Khazen, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo, has charged that the world’s great powers—particularly Russia and the US—are determined to destroy Syria. He said that leading international powers are “increasingly bent on finding a pretext to launch even harsher interventions and to prolong fighting” for their own geopolitical ends.


Pope thanks Missionaries of Mercy for their service to the Church               10-4-18


Pope Francis thanked the Missionaries of Mercy for their service to the Church during the recent Jubilee Year of Mercy – and beyond.

His remarks came in an audience on April 10, 2018, with more than 500 members of the group, before celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The group was meeting in Rome from April 8 – 11 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The Missionaries of Mercy were priests who received a special commission to forgive sins and offer mercy during the Jubilee.

According to the Pope, they were a witness to God’s mercy and the Church “cannot, must not and does not wish to create any barrier or difficulty that may hinder access to the Father’s forgiveness.”

In the sacrament of Reconciliation, “When a penitent approaches us, it is important and consoling to recognize that we have before us the first fruit of the meeting that has already taken place with the love of God, who with His grace has opened his heart and made it willing to conversion,” the pope said.


South Korean bishops petition constitutional court to uphold abortion ban          10-4-18


A petition was submitted by South Korean bishops to the Constitutional Court to uphold abortion ban.
“The Church strongly objects to the killing of an innocent life,” said Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea. “That cannot be justified under any circumstances regardless of cause.”


Los Angeles archbishop signs agreement with leaders of Native American tribes         10-4-18

In the US, a set of historic protocols promises a hopeful start to the next chapter in the relationship between Southern California’s ‘first peoples’ and the Church

Seventeen protocols were signed by Archbishop José H. Gomez and four tribal leaders from across Southern California on March 28 at the Kuruvungna Springs Cultural Center in West LA, the site of one of the Tongva tribe’s ancestral villages.

The 17 protocols are an effort to “honor the rich contributions that the ‘first peoples’ of the land have made to the Catholic Church from the beginning,” Archbishop Gomez said at the ceremony.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church, I pledge to stand with you,” the archbishop told representatives from the Chumash, Tataviam, Tongva and Acjachemen Nations. “As your brother and as your friend, I pledge that we will defend and encourage your cultures and languages, your traditions and spirituality.”

The document spells out a number of ways the Catholic Church in Los Angeles can ensure that “indigenous traditional perspectives” are respected and welcomed by its institutions and facilities.


As Palestinian Christians flee Gaza, priest expresses grave concern          10-4-18

In the past six years the number of Christians in the Gaza Strip has plummeted from 4,500 to just 1,000, due to the harsh conditions under which they are living, according to the pastor of the territory's sole Catholic church.

Gazans “live like it's an open-air prison since we can't leave. We can't visit relatives, look for work, medicine or good hospitals on the outside,” Fr. Mario da Silva told ACI Prensa.

Since Hamas came to power there in 2007, Israel and Egypt have conducted an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, restricting the flow of persons and goods in an effort to limit rocket attacks on Israel launched from the territory.


The Church in Mexico urges Catholics to vote but endorses no candidates         10-4-18

“Even behind the scenes, neither the Mexican Episcopal Conference nor Church leaders representing individual dioceses appear willing to throw their weight behind any presidential hopefuls this election cycle,” according to the report. “Observers say this is mostly because none of the candidates are particularly attractive to the Church.”

The approximately 150 bishops and 20 priests taking part in the 105th annual conference of the Episcopal Conference invited the 4 presidential candidates and expressed the Church’s and the people’s expectation of a corruption-free, democracy-loving nation.


India - A thousand sister doctors are dedicated to health care for the most disadvantaged


‘Sister Doctors Forum of India’(SDFI), an organization of sisters doctors in India, celebrates 25 years of existence. More than a thousand religious women who are specialized in the medical profession with highly qualified studies hail from 104 religious congregations serve with compassion the Indian people, irrespective of caste and creed.

Sister Beena of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate, a gynecologist in Mumbai and president of SDFI says, “The sister doctors deal with the health care needs of people in remote and rural areas where Medical technology and modern facilities are not yet available. They provide preventive, curative and even palliative assistance service in the most disadvantaged areas of our great nation. Sr Beena says further, “Health services have become a business. The commitment, ethics and dedication of doctors are constantly being challenged by increasing consumption, by health care practices motivated by profit. The compassionate model of care and mission Christian health care, which intends to bring healing and salvation, becomes increasingly difficult.”

SDFI was founded on June 5, 1993during the celebration of the Golden Jubilee and National Convention of the “Catholic Health Association of India” (CHAI) in Kerala.


Senegal - Casamance: "There is a resumption of violence: we pray strongly for peace": says the Bishop of Ziguinchor           10-4-18

"We must complain about an increase in violence following the tragedy that occurred in January", said Bishop Paul Abel Mamba of Ziguinchor, capital of Casamance, southern region of Senegal, in his homily on Easter Sunday, where there has been a "low intensity" war for secession since 1982.
The drama which Bishop Mamba refers to is the killing of 13 young loggers on January 6 near the village of Boffa-Bayottes  The massacre was attributed to some members of the secessionist movement, the Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC), which however rejected the accusations.
"We have the impression that we are moving backward because there was an appreciable truce that encouraged dialogue to proceed towards peace", said the Bishop in his Easter homily. Bishop Mamba invited the government and armed groups to dialogue "because violence has never solved anything".


Pakistan - "Your vote counts": The Church promotes an inclusive electoral system of religious minorities         10-4-18

"Your vote is important": this is the title of the campaign launched by the National Commission "Justice and Peace" (NCJP), within the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, to encourage Christians in Pakistan to participate actively and consciously in the next general elections, scheduled in the country on July 15, 2018. The Commission has spread the campaign in parishes, movements, associations to emphasize the importance of election and voting and to promote the "joint electoral system".

The text of the appeal reads: "Your vote is your future. Make everyone feel your presence through your vote, it is for your prosperity". The Commission recalls that every individual over the age of 18 must have a national identity card and be enrolled in electoral registers: the count of registered Christian voters is very important and will have an essential role.
The Commission's campaign aims to reach out to young people especially: today, thanks to a new software promoted by the "Pakistan Electoral Commission", young people aged 18 are automatically registered as voters.


Venezuela - Appeal of the Church: the environmental protection of the Amazon is a shared responsibility           10-4-18


"The Venezuelan Amazon: the cry of the earth and the cry of the peoples call for answers" is the title of the document published by REPAM (the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network), on behalf of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference (CEV) in the face of the environmental destruction of the Venezuelan Amazon.
"We know that it is a situation that affects the entire Amazon and for this reason, as an organization that includes all the countries of the Amazon, we want to present to society and to all those we consider to be Church, concerns and calls for shared responsibility, which such situations require".

Though this is just one of the many problems faced by the indigenous communities, this call to civil society and institutions aims to give voice to the indigenous peoples, who are affected by the increase in mining, by the non-observance of the minimum conditions of mining and by the looting of natural resources in the Amazon, a territory that covers nine Latin American countries.

India's online news media fear state clampdown          10-4-18

India's federal government is planning to regulate online news media amid fears it aims to tame those who dare to challenge its policies.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the government run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) constituted a 10-member committee on April 4 to recommend new regulations. Social activists and journalists suspect the move aims to stifle press freedom ahead of the national election next year.

The BJP's rivals are busy highlighting the failure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfil his own election promises five years ago, making the election decisive for Modi's political career. Tayab Yousuf, a student of mass communication at the University of Calcutta, said the government fears that digital media are witnessing a boom and leaving them untamed could prove catastrophic.


Pakistani group demands equal rights for women, minorities            10-4-18


Pakistan's independent rights commission has called for free and fair elections with the added provision that an even playing field be created for women and religious minorities, echoing similar calls by bishops in the country.

"There must be special efforts to ensure both women and religious minorities are able to participate in, and contest, the elections freely and without fear, pressure or intimidation," the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said after its 32nd Annual General Meeting on April 7.

The country is due to hit the polls in July as the incumbent government's 5-year term ends on June 5.


Outcry as religious leaders become state ministers in India           10-4-18

Muslim and Christian leaders in India have slammed Madhya Pradesh state government for according "minister of state" status to five Hindu religious leaders in what many called a deadly mix of religion and politics in an election year.

The central state's government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), last week gave minister status to the leaders even though they have not contested or won any election.

The move has snowballed into a controversy as it violates provisions of India's constitution, which expressly upholds secular and democratic values. The new status allows the five Hindu leaders to get salaries and other perks similar to those of a junior minister who is elected to the legislative house. They would also have a greater say in administrative matters in the government.

"This news shocked me. I do not know where our country is heading," said Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur, "it is a clear sign that the secular state is on the path of collapse," the bishop on April 5.


Sri Lanka wants to make Sunday schools compulsory           10-4-18

Sri Lanka is awaiting cabinet approval of a proposal to make Sunday school education compulsory for students aged 6-19 of all religions after the Christian Affairs Ministry sought feedback from Catholic priests about the idea earlier.

Father Piyal Janaka Fernando, institute director of the National Catechetical, Educational and Biblical Centre, forwarded their feedback to the government. Officials reportedly approached the priests based on their experience but plan to make Sunday lessons mandatory for Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus and students of other faiths, too.

The issue was proposed in 2017 by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and chief Buddhist monks in the wake of a series of demonstrations against extra-curricular school-related teaching on Sundays. The Catholic Church has 1,155 Sunday schools, over 13,000 teachers and nearly 202,000 students in 12 dioceses across the country.


Pope appoints new auxiliary bishop in Sri Lankan capital         10-4-18

Pope Francis appointed Father J.D. Anthony Jayakody as the new auxiliary bishop to the Archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka on April 10. He will replace retiring bishop Vincent Peiris.

Since 2011 Fr Jayakody has served as the Episcopal Vicar for priestly formation in Colombo and the rector of St. John Mary Vianney Archdiocesan Seminary for adult vocations in the Sri Lankan capital.

Born in Pamunugama on Oct 2 1958, the new Colombo-auxiliary bishop previously served as director of the philosophy department at the National Seminary of Kandy from 2003-2005. He was ordained in 1985 and obtained his licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.




Pope at General Audience: Baptism ‘Christifies’ us             11-4-18


Beginning a new cycle of catechesis, Pope Francis at the 11 April General Audience talked of Baptism, “by which we receive the forgiveness of sin and are reborn to new and eternal life in Christ.”

“Through the waters of Baptism, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we are immersed in the saving mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, and become, in Christ, adoptive sons and daughters of God our Father.” Acknowledging Jesus’ Lordship, as bearers of His image, we share in the mission of his Body the Church for the transformation of the world, the Pope said.

Baptism is the door to the other sacraments, whereby we grow in the life of grace through this gate to the other sacraments, until we come at last to our true homeland in heaven. Sustained by prayer and by our daily efforts we grow in the imitation of Christ, Pope Francis said.


Knights of Malta warned: punishment for criticism of Pontiff             11-4-18


English members of the Knights of Malta have been warned that they will face disciplinary action if they make statements “offensive to the Holy Father.” In particular they have been told that they must not defend the book, Dictator Pope. The book’s author, Henry Sire, was recently suspended by the Order of Malta. Members were also directed to inform superiors if other Knights criticized the Pope: to “report any behaviour which is not in line with that envisaged by membership in the Order.”


In annual message to Buddhists, Vatican suggests joint work against corruption           11-4-18


Buddhists and Christians should work together to fight corruption, the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue argues in an annual message of greeting timed for the Buddhist feast of Vesakh. 
Vesakh is an annual feast, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. The feast is celebrated by different Buddhist communities in April and May.


Pope argues for greater economic equality             11-4-18


Pope Francis argues for greater distribution of economic resources, in his preface to a new book being published in Italy. The Pope’s preface appears in “Power and Money: Social Justice According to Bergoglio,” a collection edited by Michele Zanzucchi. The Pope proposes an economic system that favours everyone instead of a few.

Pope Francis talks about an “ambivalence” created by the world of finance and commerce. Never before have these two worlds allowed so many people to benefit from so many goods, while at the same time “excessively exploiting common resources, increasing inequality and deteriorating the planet.” He therefore calls for an equal distribution of world’s wealth.


French President Macron seeks input from Church leaders, prompting secularist complaints

French President Emmanuel Macron has reached out to the country’s bishops, hoping to include them in discussions of public issues. The president’s gesture has drawn complaints from observers who insist on strict secularity. But Macron argues: “A president of the French republic who takes no interest in the Church and its Catholics would be failing in his duty.”


Ivory Coast - The Bishops: "A presidential pardon to thin out prisons where 16,000 detainees live in spaces for 4,000 people”          11-4-18


To offer presidential pardon for those guilty of minor crimes and hire new magistrates to speed up trials. This is the appeal launched by the Catholic Church in Côte d'Ivoire where the situation in prisons is dramatic. In the 34 Ivorian prisons 16,000 prisoners are imprisoned in a total space planned for only 4,000 prisoners.

The conditions of prisoners were brought to the attention of politics and public opinion by Bishop Antoine Koné of Odienné and President of the Episcopal Commission for Social Pastoral Care, in his homily for a national day for prisoners, which was celebrated on the Sunday of Divine Mercy, on 8 April, in the church of Sainte Thérèse de Marcory, in Abidjan.


Kidnapped priest set free in DR Congo           11-4-18

Father Celestin Ngango who had been abducted after Easter Sunday Mass at his parish in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is set free.


Vatican diplomat at UN speaks out against closed borders, population control        11-4-18

Speaking at a UN meeting devoted to international migration, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, said that “unsustainable short-term solutions that prey on fear and use demography to justify closed borders or promote population control only lead to more unmanageable crises in the future.”

He was speaking on 11 April at the fifty-first session of the Commission on Population and Development. He said, “When properly managed and voluntary, migration positively contributes to sustainable development, vibrant economies and healthy societies at the national, regional and international levels.”

Therefore, Archbishop Auza said, first and foremost, we need to combat the scourge of poverty and the inequalities that drive internal migration and that often lead to the cross-border movements of individuals and even entire families seeking a better life in a more secure environment. It calls for long-term and reliable investment at both the national and international levels in education, health care, urban planning and policies that promote decent work and that ensure access to social protection, adequate infrastructure and housing.


Pakistan - A reform of the educational system is urgently needed to promote religious        harmony 11-4-18


In the Pakistani educational system, reforms and improvements are needed to promote tolerance and religious harmony in society: this is what Catholic Peter Jacob, director of the "Center for Social Justice" of Lahore, and former executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops of Pakistan says. As the nation prepares itself for the general elections scheduled for July 2018, the "Centre for Social Justice" is engaged in a national awareness campaign on a key factor: the education of the new generations. If the system is tainted by prejudice or a discriminatory approach towards religious minorities, it will continue to foment hatred and intolerance in society. This is why the Centre points out that the government's education plan ignores the constitutional guarantees that protect minorities from discrimination in public and private schools.

For example, minority students may opt to study "Ethics" instead of "Islamic studies", a compulsory subject in most schools and colleges. But the alternative course is impractical and often badly organized, so that non-Muslim students often remain in "Islamic study" classes. Similarly, the textbooks contain many passages inciting hatred towards non-Muslim religions.


Cambodia - New families for a new world               11-4-18


"Family is the cell of society and in the family God invites us to become a small holy community, so that the light illuminates the darkness of the human heart and a source of inexhaustible grace quenches our society interested in having and in personal success": this is what Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, says in a message recalling that in a three-year period from 2017 to 2019 the community of the baptized in the Vicariate of Phnom Penh lives a time of study, prayer and catechesis on the theme of the family.
The pastoral outline of Amoris laetitia has been translated into Khmer language. In the second year, 2018, the pastoral focus is on engaged couples who are preparing for marriage.


A "Continental Walk" to raise awareness on public policies for children            11-4-18


"It will be a symbolic but strong action: we want to bring tenderness in the public sphere and influence public policies for children in the countries where we will pass". This is how Angel Morillo, a lay Catholic and father of two children, director of the "Centrality of Infancy" program of Celam (Latin American Episcopal Council), describes the "Continental Walk for Children" entitled "Traces of Tenderness", which will travel Latin America and promote ecumenical and inter-religious initiatives for a whole year. "We need everyone: Zero violence, 100% tenderness", this is the slogan of the initiative. Promoting tenderness as a way of life and putting children's care at the centre of national public policies is the aim of the social mobilization actions, which will start on June 3 from the US-Mexico border and will culminate in the Argentinian Tierra del Fuego on June 16th, 2019. 
The initiative wants to denounce the various forms of violence suffered by children in every country and to raise awareness among families, schools, ecclesial communities and organizations on the full respect of children.


Papua New Guinea - To safeguard human rights and the environment: The Church's commitment in Oceania            11-4-18


The Catholic Bishops of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, have gathered in Port Moresby from 11 to 18 April in a once-in-four-years assembly that is focused on Pope Francis’ encyclical "Laudato Sì". There are about 75 participants, all members of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conference of Oceania (FCBCO) – among them, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal and Cardinal John Ribat the archbishop of Papua New Guinea.

The theme for the meeting is "Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities". The Bishops of these remote countries are concerned about environmental issues, such as the care of the ocean ecosystem, and the protection of human rights and the environment, threatened by an economy of intense exploitation of this vast geographical area. The human rights concerns are linked also to migratiom and hospitality of refugees.


Colombia - The Bishops of the border defend Venezuelan immigrants              11-4-18


There is major concern "for the growing wave of emigrants towards border cities such as Puerto Carreño and Puerto Inirida" in Colombia, in addition to the need to implement "pastoral actions that help keep hope alive and to alleviate the suffering of those who had to leave the Country", are expressed in a" Joint Message of the Bishops of Colombia and Venezuela" of the border areas along the Orinoco river.
The 10 April document recalls that the representatives of the dioceses met in the city of Puerto Carreño (Colombia) on 14 and 15 March to "analyze the social problems many Venezuelans are experiencing" and try to help solve this huge crisis that is growing day by day. Acknowledging that the flow of Venezuelans cannot stop till the crisis is over, the bishops express concern about security, distrust and xenophobia. They express the need to pay special attention to children and young people.


New museum honours Japan's persecuted Christians             11-4-18

A new museum in Nagasaki honours Japan’s persecuted Christians.

The museum that opened on April 1 at Oura Church shows items such as a Maria Kannon — an object of veneration by Christians who had to hide their faith in the Virgin Mary. The object is in the shape of a Buddhist statue representing a deity of mercy and compassion.       

The Nagasaki Archdiocese renovated the former Latin seminary and a former residence of bishops on the premises of Oura Church — which is designated as a national treasure — into the museum.

The new facility highlights Japan’s religious history with panels explaining different time periods, such as the introduction of Catholicism to the country and a period in which Christians practiced their faith in secret amid persecution by authorities.

The church is a candidate site for the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.


Top Chinese religion cadre promoted in new structure              11-4-18

As China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) is officially absorbed into the ruling Communist Party's United Front Work Department (UFWD), its long-standing director Wang Zuoan has been formally transferred to the UFWD and promoted to deputy director.

Bringing the UFWD and SARA together under the more senior party body underscores Beijing's renewed efforts to control religions, especially so-called western religions Christianity and Islam.

Wang's reputation as SARA director among mainland Catholics was that he was tough on religious practices. Some fear his promotion, along with a fresh push to control religion by Chinese leader Xi Jinping that has already included a raft of more restrictive regulations that began operating in February and the crackdown on online Bible sales at Easter, does not augur well for religious practitioners in the People's Republic of China.




Pope Francis begs forgiveness for ‘serious mistakes’ in Chile sex abuse case          12-4-18


In a letter to the bishops of Chile, Pope Francis asked forgiveness “from all those I have offended” in his handling of the case of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, whom he appointed a bishop in 2015 despite allegations he had participated in the cover up of the sexual abuse of minors. The Pontiff wrote, “I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to the lack of truthful and balanced information.”

His letter leaves open—at least for now—the question of how he will respond to the situation.


Pontifical Commission suggests Synod on role of women            12-4-18

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America has suggested that the Synod of Bishops discuss the role of women in the Church. The commission said that women are often treated with disrespect by a “macho” culture among the clergy in Latin America.


Dutch lay Catholic group urges bishops to speak out and defend teachings on marriage        12-4-18


Voicing their concern that recent Vatican policies have set the Church on “a road to destruction,” a group of prominent Dutch Catholics have called upon their country’s bishops to speak out in defense of Church teachings on marriage.

The group of 20 Catholics, most of whom are involved in academic life, and led by a leading physicist (Wim Witteman) and psychologist (Gerard van den Ardweg), also asks the bishops of Holland to argue against a Vatican agreement with Beijing that would have the effect of “delivering up the Church to the Communist government.”


Toronto’s Cardinal Collins withholds funds from bishops’ development agency          12-4-18

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto has joined a growing list of Canadian prelates who have decided to withhold funds from the Development and Peace agency administered by the country’s episcopal conference. The bishops have taken action after a report showed that the Development and Peace collection subsidizes a number of groups that are hostile to the teachings of the Catholic Church.


Algiers gives go-ahead for local beatification of slain French monks, foreign minister says      12-4-18
In January, Pope Francis approved a decree on the martyrdom of the Servants of God Pierre-Lucien Claverie, OP, bishop of Oran, and 18 companions, men and women religious, killed in hatred of the Faith in Algeria from 1994 to 1996. The Algerian government has given approval for the beatification to take place in Algeria.


Syria conflict shows failure of UN peacekeeping, notes papal nuncio             12-4-18

Cardinal Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Syria, says that the escalating fighting in that country, and the threat of broader intervention by the world’s great powers, illustrates the failure of the UN to maintain peace.

The cardinal also confides his fears for the future of a nation teetering on the verge of an open war between world powers with opposing interests (and alliances).


Pope Francis sends condolences for plane crash in Algeria              12-4-18


A telegramme signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the Pope expresses his closeness to the Algerian people after the nation's worst ever air disaster.

257 people were killed when the Algerian military plane came down just after taking off from an airport west of the capital.


DR Congo - Two priests attacked. "The Church is intimidated and threatened" Church sources say          12-4-18


Two priests have been assaulted in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The parish priest of the church dedicated to Blessed Isidoro Bakanja in the Seka-Mbote district of Boma, in the extreme west of the Country, Fr Pierre Mavinga and his vicar, were attacked on the evening of 10 April. "It was about 8 o'clock when a dozen hooded bandits, some in military uniform, invaded our premises, fired point-blank range with real ammunition. They beat us and took our phones, computers and a little money" says Fr. Mavinga.
Fr. Mavinga is currently hospitalized.The attack happened two days after the murder of Father Étienne Sengiyumva, pastor of Kitchanga in the east of the country.


Syria - Brother Jihad: "The monastic life of prayer and work has resumed in Mar Musa"         12-4-18


"In Mar Musa the situation is calm and even in the Valley of Christians, where I was born and raised, there are no tensions. However, the overall situation of the country is still precarious". Brother Jihad Youssef is a monk of Mar Musa, the Catholic monastic community of the Syriac rite, refounded by Jesuit Father Paolo Dall'Oglio (kidnapped in 2013 and whose fate is unknown), located near the town of al-Nabk, about 80 kilometers north of Damascus.

Though the monastic life of prayer and work has resumed in Mar Musa, says the Brother, “There are still clashes in some areas, some of which are fierce, there are many victims, mainly innocent civilians".


Central Africa - Collaboration between Caritas German, Congolese and Central Africa for the return of Central African refugees              12-4-18


We are pleased with how the project is proceeding and with the collaboration with Caritas of Central Africa and Caritas of Bambari" says Olivier Bonte, representative of Caritas Germany in the Democratic Republic of Congo, describing the activities of the three sister organizations to help the Central African refugees in the DRC due to the civil war that has been devastating their country since 2012.
The efforts of the three Caritas are concentrated on both sides of the river Ubangi that marks the border between the DRC and the Central African Republic, so as to encourage the return of refugees in Central Africa. However, the security conditions in the Central African Republic remain precarious and the repatriation of refugees is presented as an effort that will last over time.


India - Three new nuns: persecutions have encouraged us to follow Christ          12-4-18


"The anti-Christian massacres of 2008 did not discourage me, but rather encouraged me to follow Christ": this is what the three new nuns of the Institute of the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa (CSST) said, who made the solemn profession on 8 April in the Indian state of Orissa. They are: Sr. Rajani Ekka, Sr. Kristina Pradhan and Sr. JananiPradhan. Over 500 faithful were present at the liturgy which was celebrated in the Catholic Church of St. Paul, in Balliguda, in the district of Kandhamal, and presided over by Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

Anti-Christian massacres were carried out in the district of Kandhamal in 2008 which caused 100 deaths and 50 thousand displaced persons.


Groups form Indonesian anti-trafficking network           12-4-18

Indonesian church and advocacy groups have formed a network to combat human trafficking of men, women and children.

Established on April 9, the new alliance includes Vivat International and Franciscans International, which run programs for the poor and have special consultative status at the United Nations. The Franciscan Commission of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation as well as sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary are also involved.

Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, director of Vivat International for Indonesia, said network members would act as advocates for victims. There would also be both local and international campaigns against human trafficking.

Politicking game as Indian state cuts job quotas           12-4-18

A plan by India's Jharkhand state to weaken job quotas for tribal and low-caste Dalit people has been branded as politically motivated. A panel appointed by the state government of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has proposed extending the availability of lower-grade government jobs in some districts.

It was a "tactical" move to block the advancement of indigenous and Dalit communities while winning over other voters, Bishop Anand Jojo said on April 10. His diocese is based in Hazaribag district, an indigenous stronghold. Bishop Felix Toppo of Jamshedpur said job reservations were being used more as part of a "political game plan" than a genuine attempt to assist poor non-indigenous and non-Dalit locals.

The state of Jharkhand was created 18 years ago, purportedly to advance the lot of its predominantly indigenous inhabitants. Many jobs were reserved for them as well as Dalits.


Indonesian govt hands Catholic schools mentoring role            12-4-18

Two top Catholic universities in Indonesia have been chosen by the government to help under developed universities improve education quality.

Atma Jaya Catholic University in Jakarta and the Catholic University of Soegijapranata in Semarang, Central Java are among 29 leading Indonesian educational institutions picked for the role. 

The move is part of Indonesian government efforts to raise the standard of higher education in the country and improve the workforce.



Lebanese cardinal warns against ‘new drums of war’ in Syria            13-4-18


“As the great powers are beating the drums of a new war against Syria, we regret the absence of a language of peace from the mouths of senior officials in our world today,” said Cardinal Bechara Rai, the Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church. “Among the great powers, you will remember that we all know how to start wars, but we do not know how they end.”


Bishops from Europe, Africa meet to discuss globalization              13-4-18


The Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) were to hold a new Seminar with bishops from the two continents in Fatima (Portugal), from 12-15 April 2018, on the theme “The significance of globalisation for the Church and for cultures in Europe and Africa.”

Following the desire to promote growing pastoral collaboration between the episcopate of the two continents, for more than a decade the two continental bodies have been organising a series of symposia and seminars to strengthen communion and collaboration, and reflection on the great challenges facing the Church.

At conclusion on 15 April Sunday, an intervention from a European bishop and one from an African bishop were to seek to outline the mission of the Bishop in the face of the challenges of globalisation.


Indian bishop from Arunachal Pradesh honoured with Bharat Gaurav Award           13-4-18


Sanskriti Yuva Sanstha, an NGO with the vision of promoting Indian culture and society, honoured Salesian Bishop George Palliparambil, of Miao Diocese with the Sixth Bharat Gaurav Life Time Achievement Award at the prestigious House of Commons in the British Parliament.

Born in southern India’s Kerala state, Bishop George has been working in northeast India for over 40 years.  He is the first bishop of Miao Diocese, created in December 2005. 

The colourful ceremony was graced by eminent personalities from around the world.

The 63-year old bishop, the first Catholic bishop to receive this award, was among 20 who were honoured.

A letter from the Award Committee said: “You are one of the iconic personalities of our nation who always encouraged each and every one to bloom into a next idol of tomorrow. You are the pride of our country (Bharat Gaurav) and we feel privileged to inform that our Award screening committee has chosen you to reward the “Bharat Gaurav Award.” The letter commended his lifelong commitment and concern for young people’s education and health; promotion of indigenous methods for environment conservation, and upholding of traditional tribal values of valour, dignity and honest work.


Lebanon - Patriarch Rai: those who speak of faith and doctrine in the media should follow the teaching of the Church        13-4-18


The teaching of the Church must always be taken into consideration and strictly followed by those who, in traditional media or through social media, deal with issues that call into question the doctrine and contents of the Catholic faith. This is the call strongly expressed by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai through the release of the document entitled "The truth that liberates and unites". The patriarchal text of April 9 is a true doctrinal and pastoral handbook offering criteria and points of reference that should inspire and guide speeches and debates focused on issues concerning the Catholic faith and the magisterium of the Church.

Among the pastoral guidelines, the Patriarch includes the call - addressed to everyone - not to use social media as a tool to foment discussions and to launch personal attacks. In particular, the document asks all priests, consecrated persons, and lay people not to use the media and the internet to get involved in theological-doctrinal discussions without the consent of their own bishops, of their superiors.

Pakistan - A Christian senator and a Dalit senator elected in the province of Sindh          13-4-18


Anwar Lal Dean, 62, is the first Christian senator in the province of Sindh. Kirshna Kolhi, 39, has become the first-ever Hindu dalit woman Senator. The presence of the two members of minority groups in the assembly of the Senate of Pakistan is an encouraging sign for religious minorities.
The Senate of Pakistan, the Upper House of Parliament includes 104 elected senators with a 6-year term, but - according to a particular institutional system - elections take place every three years to renew half of the assembly, with a regional representation mechanism and some seats reserved for religious minorities.


Parts of China's Henan enforce registration for all faiths        13-4-18

Moves by China's all-powerful Communist Party to gain tight control over religion have been ramped up in the Pengyuan district of the populous central province of Henan.

On April 4, local authorities posted a notice that demanded those who follow the official religions to register with the residents' committee. Followers of Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism should register, the notice from the committee read. Henan has an estimated 300,000 Catholics.

Vietnam jails Catholic social activist for 9 years            13-4-18

A court in central Vietnam has jailed a Catholic activist after convicting her of subverting the communist state.

The People's Court in Ha Tinh Province sentenced Teresa Tran Thi Xuan to nine years in prison on April 12 for "attempting to overthrow the people's government," the state-run Ha Tinh newspaper reported on April 13. Xuan, 42, also faces another five years under house arrest after finishing what observers called a very harsh sentence.

The newspaper said Xuan shared articles and video clips on social media from "reactionary groups" to undermine the government.


Indian religious leaders pledge to check hate            13-4-18


More than 1,500 religious leaders in India concluded a two-day conclave resolving to reach out to the masses with true teachings of their faiths to check increasing religion-based hatred and violence.

Representatives of various sects of the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religions and sexual minorities attended the event on April 11-12 in Indore. It was jointly organized by three organizations working for religious harmony.

Adil Sayeed, one of the organizers, said people spread hate about religions for political reasons and personal profit. "These people pick up teachings and traditions that suit them to spread hatred, and simple ordinary people fall for such distorted teachings. This leads to religious intolerance," he said.



An Indian among 8 new Venerable Servants of God           14-4-18


Among the causes promulgated in the presence of Pope Francis for approval of enquiry to lead to sainthood, and therefore to be called “Venerable” is that of an Indian. The new Venerables include 3 priests and 5 nuns: an Indian, a Spanish, a Portuguese, a Canadian and 4 Italians

Father Varghese Payapilly, an Indian diocesan priest, was founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Destitute. He was born into a rich family in Konthuruthy (India) on August 8, 1876 and died of typhoid in Ernakulam on October 5, 1929.

After a disastrous flood in 1924, Fr. Varghese transformed his parish into a centre for the homeless. This experience led him to found a religious congregation of Sisters of the Destitute on 19 March, 1927.  The nuns, among other activities, today runs numerous homes for street children, abandoned elderly people, beggars, terminally ill people with cancer and AIDS, and physically and mentally disabled people.


South Sudan - Major security for humanitarian operators in the Country is needed             14-4-18


Violence and insecurity continue to proliferate in South Sudan, victimizing even humaritarian operators.
"Over the weekend, gunmen fired against an NGO that was transporting five humanitarian operators along the Nhialdlu-Bentiu road", reads a note of the Catholic Bishops of East African nations (AMECEA). A UNIDO worker and a volunteer belonging to Hope Restoration were killed earlier.
Following these tragic episodes, Alain Noudehou, humanitarian coordinator of the area, urged the parties in conflict to allow the safe delivery of humanitarian aid. Noudehou has turned to the government and opposition groups to ask for guarantees on the safety of aid operations carried out by operators.



At Angelus, Pope renews appeal for peace in Syria             14-4-18


Explaining the Gospel of the Day wherein we see Risen Jesus appearing to his disciples and removing their incredulity by showing his hands, feel and side that had been wounded leading to his death so that they could accept the reality of his resurrection. The corporal evidence gave the disciples the faith their souls needed.

Our body may have its weakness but it is a gift of God, destined by him to be united with the soul reflecting fully that man is created in the image of God. Hence the call to have great respect for the body. A sin against the body, ours as well as others’, is therefore an outrage against God. I think today, the Pope said, of the children, women and the sick elderly whose bodies are ill-treated. Jesus has paid the ransom through his death and resurrection to free people suffering from the slavery of our times.

After the Angelus, Pope Francis reminded the people that in Madagascar, Luciano Botovasoa, a layman and father of family was being beatified on Sunday. He laid his life for Christ for whom all his life he bore witness.

The Pope once against called for action to bring about peace in Syria. This appeal has great relevance now that there has been a joint attack against Damascus by American, French and British forces. Again, he asked for prayers for the British baby Alfie Evans. The Pontiff expressed his anguish at the kidnapping, towards the end of March, of 3 persons in the border between Ecuador and Colombia and offered nearness to their families.