5-11 Feb, 2018


Pope was informed of Chilean abuse victims’ complaints, AP alleges            5-2-18


The Associated Press has said that Pope Francis was informed in 2015 about complaints against Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, named bishop of Osorno diocese in January 2015.

During his January visit to Chile, the Pontiff told reports that he had not received complaints about Bishop Barros. But AP has said it has obtained a copy of a letter from a Chilean abuse victim, charging that the bishop was aware of abuse by the notorious Father Fernando Karadima, and took no action.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who chairs the special papal commission on abuse, informed members of that commission that he hand-delivered the victim’s letter to the Pontiff. Juan Carlos Cruz, the author of the letter complaining about Bishop Barros, also told AP that he had received assurances from Cardinal O’Malley that the Pope had received his letter in 2015.


Archbishop had ‘no prior knowledge’ of Vatican bar on McAleese           5-2-18


Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said neither he nor his office was consulted by the Vatican prior to former President Mary McAleese being barred from taking part in a conference.

The event to mark International Women’s Day next month has been moved from the Vatican to another venue in Rome after Mrs McAleese and two other speakers were refused permission to take part by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

In a short statement on 2 February afternoon Archbishop Martin said the first he heard about the decision “ was from Mrs Mc Aleese herself”.


Turkey’s President Erdogan meets Pope, encounters protests in Rome           5-2-18

Pope Francis met on February 5 Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Their discussion reportedly touched on the conflicts in the Middle East and the status of Jerusalem, as well as the status of Christians in Turkey. The visit by Erdogan to the Vatican- the first by a Turkish head of state in several decades- prompted angry demonstrations outside St. Peters Square by Kurdish protesters, who cited human-rights abuses against the minority population.


Portugal’s Catholic doctors speak out against euthanasia bill                 5-2-18

“The recent bill of law, submitted on February 3rd by the Leftist union (Bloco de Esquerda) to make euthanasia legal in Portugal, will seriously affect the doctor-patient relationship and will destroy medicine itself”. This was written earlier today by the Portuguese Catholic Doctors’ Association (Amcp) in a release, in which it states that “there is no ethical legitimacy in approving a law the enforcement of which will create general mistrust in the doctor-patient relationship, because the power to cause or bring forward someone’s death, even at the patient’s request, is against medicine itself, it’s a power that cannot but destroy medicine”. The association, which in the public debate has repeatedly opposed to the legitimisation of euthanasia, also decries the expected involvement of doctors in a Committee for the assessment of early death processes.


Kenya – Bishops call: Respect freedom and fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution       5-2-18

“We are profoundly disturbed by unconstitutional acts committed by the government as weel as the opposition” say the Kenyan bishops in a declaration.

They demand, in the first place, respect for the media – a week after three private and important TV stations were forcefully closed in order to black out investiture ceremony of the opposition leader Raila Odinga as head of state, and therefore as a challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta who had lost in the 26 October elections. The bishops say that press freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution (34th article).


Syria- Syrian-orthodox patriarch celebrates liturgy at Deir ez-Zor after 5 years.       5-2-17

The Antiochean Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the sacred Qurobo – the solemn Eucharistic liturgy – amidst the ruins of the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in the city of Deir ez-Zor. Participating in the 3 February liturgy was a small group of local Christian community who slowly are returning back to the city devastated by war and recaptured recently by Syrian army.

Priest to offer pastoral support to Olympic athletes            5-2-18

The Catholic Church in South Korea is preparing pastoral support for athletes at the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Seoul Archdiocese is sending a priest to the huge sporting event. Father Francis Lim Eui-june, director of the department for the pastoral ministry in the workplace, will stay at the Olympic village during the games and Paralympics.

Meanwhile, Chuncheon Diocese, which covers Olympic venues Pyeongchang and Gangneung, is also getting involved in the event. The diocese will distribute leaflets in English and Korean in parishes near Olympic venues with information including maps of sports venues and details of where people can attend Mass. In addition, the diocese will hand out leaflets in eight languages about the Catholic Church in Korea prepared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea. 

The Winter Olympics will be held from Feb. 9-25 and the Paralympics from March 9-18.

Caritas prepare Kashmir villagers to deal with natural disasters           5-2-18

The Jammu and Kashmir state government and Caritas are jointly running a disaster risk reduction pilot project in 10 villages.

Altaf Lone, program coordinator of Caritas India, notes that the Kashmir Valley is prone to disasters such as floods, earthquakes -170 in 100 years, landslides and avalanches as well as high velocity winds. As well as basic medical training, rescue techniques and relief camp management, people are taught to engage in contingency planning. Residents are advised to prepare to flee if needed by arranging personal documents, drinking water, non-perishable food, ropes and radios as well as medicines and lights with extra batteries. Locals are also provided with contacts and information on insuring their crops against natural catastrophes.

Caritas has conducted 20 training workshops in the 10 selected villages in the southern area of Kashmir and plans to expand the project to more districts.


Report: 75 killed in renewed Fulani attacks on Christian community in Nigeria       5-2-18


No fewer than 75 corpses have been recovered following a string of attacks by Fulani herdsmen on the predominantly Christian community of Miango, in the Bassa local government area of Plateau state, central Nigeria.

Jerry Datim, a religious leader from the area, told World Watch Monitor that the first attack took place on 24 January: They killed three people, before moving on to another village, Jebbu Bassa, where they also killed three people. They also burned down a lot of properties.” He said the assailants continued their killing spree, unchallenged, throughout the next week.

On 4 February two Christians were killed on their farm and another, in a different village, was killed in his garden. In all, 14 villages have been targeted, with 89 houses set on fire and vast swathes of farmland also destroyed by the assailants, who vowed to dislodge the natives.

Up to 3,000 villagers are now taking refuge with their relatives in the neighbouring communities of Kabon and Tudun Wada, both in Jos North local government area- they have lost homes and means of livelihood.


South Africa’s bishops call for calm amid political uncertainties          5-2-18


In the midst of rising new and dangerous tensions because of the political situation, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference calls on all engaged in political decisions regarding in particular the future role of President Zuma to exercise calm and patience.

The bishops say: “Already opposing groups are gathering on the streets, whole provinces are becoming agitated and if these tensions are not resolved with goodwill the political climate will be further poisoned for generations. Without a quick decision the new administration of the ruling party will be judged as disunited and vacillating. We call on President Zuma to act as an elder statesman and to put the good of the country first.” The Catholic Bishops also appeal to all South Africans to pray for stability and justice.


Kenya bishops denounce ‘Unconstitutional’ media blackout             5-2-18


Catholic Bishops in Kenya have denounced the government shutdown of the country’s three largest private television channels as “unconstitutional” and in direct contradiction to the law.

Police officers and officials from the Communications Authority of Kenya disconnected Kenya Television Network, Citizen Television and Nation Television News over plans to broadcast opposition leader Raila Odinga's unofficial "inauguration" last Tuesday (30 January) where he declared himself the “people’s president”.

Despite Kenya’s High Court ordering the government to allow the stations to continue broadcasting on 1 February, they remain off air.


‘Be fully Indian fully Christian’ – Cardinal Oswald Gracias       5-2-18


Inaugurating the 30th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin Church, in Bangalore on Sunday 4 February 2018, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India and the Archbishop of Bombay exhorted the Bishops in India to urge the faithful to become fully Indian and fully Christian.

He said, “The Catholic Church needs our nation and India needs the Church. We will be discussing our role as Indian Christians and be asking our people, also to become better Indian Christians. This is the call of today to be fully Indian fully Christian.”

“Our responsibility is to make the gospel values present in society and make people not only think about but also discuss gospel values as an element of evangelization, be it eradication of corruption, spreading of gospel values, truth, justice, selflessness, removal of prejudices exploitation of tribals and oppression of Dalits,” stated Cardinal Oswald Gracias.




Miracle approved, canonization looms for Pope Paul VI               6-2-18

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has approved a miraclethe inexplicable healing of an unborn childattributed to the intercession of Blessed Paul VI. Once Pope Francis gives his formal approval, a canonization ceremony could be scheduledlikely for later this year.

The miracle concerns the healing of an unborn child, in the fifth month of pregnancy. The mother, originally from the province of Verona, was carrying out a difficult pregnancy and was at risk of miscarriage for a disease that could have compromised the life of the fetus and mother. A few days after Pope Montini’s beatification, which took place in Rome on Sunday 19 October 2014, the woman went to Brescia to pray the new Blessed at the Santuario delle Grazie. The baby girl was born in good health and still is. The alleged miracle had been studied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.


Pope’s message for Lent: beware false prophets, cold hearts          6-2-18


"Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life," writes Pope Francis in his Lenten Message for 2018.

The Pope's annual message is a meditation on a verse from St. Matthew's Gospel (24:12): "Because of the increase in iniquity, the love of many will grow cold." The message was released by the Vatican on February 6, in anticipation of the penitential season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14.

In his message the Holy Father warns against false prophets, who lead people away from the love of God. "They can appear as snake charmers, who manipulate human emotions," he writes. "They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us."

Going on to discuss the danger of a love that grows cold, the Pope writes: "More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, 'the root of all evil.'" He sees environmental problems as a result of the pursuit of profit.

The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God's plan, were created to sing His praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Pope Francis calls upon Catholics to pursue prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during the season of Lent, as a means of rekindling their charity. He adds that he would "like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God's voice.


2 priests brutally murdered in Mexico’s Guerrero state                 6-2-18

Two Mexican priests were brutally killed in the early hours of 5 February morning along the road that connects Taxco de Alarcon to Iguala, in the State of Guerrero, one of the most violent in the country. It was a bloody ambush, staged by a commando which blocked the car in which Father Germán Muñiz García and Father Iván Añorve were travelling and opened fire, killing the two priests and injuring the other three people who were travelling with them, including a teacher who is now fighting for her life. They had spent the feast of Candlemas in the nearby community of Julantla. 


Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences praised the 'extraordinary' Communist state              6-2-18


“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other country and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.


Chinese Communist Party paper: ties with Vatican coming soon               6-2-18


A leading Chinese newspaper, published by the Communist Party, has predicted that the Vatican will soon open diplomatic relations with Beijing. The Global Times argues that Pope Francis has shown the wisdomto settle the Vaticans disputes with the Chinese government, because an accord would be tremendously beneficial to Catholicsin China.


UK government minister, at Vatican, calls for dialogue and respect to combat religious intolerance             6-2-18


‘Why it matters to be intolerant of intolerance’ was the title of a conference held at Rome’s Gregorian University this week, highlighting the need for closer cooperation in the fight against violent extremism.

Key speakers at the event were Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and Tariq Ahmad, a British government minister of state for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, tasked with issues of counter-terrorism and freedom of religion.

Lord Ahmad also serves as the Prime Minister’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict. As a Muslim, whose children attend Catholic schools, Ahmad believes that inclusivity and mutual respect are the hallmarks of a stable society.

Lord Ahmad says religion is being used as a weapon by extremist groups therefore “it is important that like-minded organisations, countries and communities come together to raise voices, to ensure the protection of minority faiths wherever they find persecution occurring in the world”.

A record-breaking January for pilgrimages in the Holy Land             6-2-18


Statistics from the Christian Information Centre show a steady increase, with record breaking numbers for January 218. In January 2016. 390 groups had booked a mass in the sanctuaries, with the participation of 11,000 pilgrims. In 2017, in the same period, 16 thousand pilgims arrived in 529 groups, but in January 2018, the number of groups increased to 700, for a told of 26,000 pilgrims.


Anglican synod to consider communion with Methodists              6-2-18

A debate on a report containing proposals for the coming together of the Church of England and the Methodist Church will take place during next month’s meeting of the General Synod.

Members will be asked to welcome the report, produced by the faith and order bodies of the two Churches, which calls for ministers from the two to be made interchangeable. Proposals for the union of the two Churches, debated periodically since the 1950s, were narrowly defeated in General Synod in 1972.

The present recommendations are different, calling for communion rather than full unity. A note from the Commission says that acceptance would be a “profound sign of reconciliation”, and warns that there would be “serious” implications.

A spokesman for Englands Catholic bishops hoped that the meeting is not all about the option of a compromise with mutual give-and-take, but also about how we can get richer by exchanging gifts.”


In Bangladesh, many tribal people wish to be baptized           6-2-18

The diocese of Rajshahi, in northwestern Bangladesh, has a new parish church in Khonjanpur, Joypurhat. The new parish priest is Fr Pawel, a Polish missionary with the Salesians of Don Bosco.

At the inaugural ceremony on 7 February, Bishop Gervas Rozario, the local bishop, said “Our episcopal circumscription is getting bigger and bigger and we hope that another one can be born in the future.”

The parish priest explained that "the area is inhabited mostly by tribal people, in a place where we want to spread Christian teachings.” He started a school on 1 January meant for children of all religions.

Babu Ram, a tribal Santal who has worked locally as a catechist for four years, said, “we know that many of the non-Christians have expressed a desire to be baptised. I believe that in the future we will have many new faithful and increase the number of Catholics in the parish."

Only 380,000 are catholics in a population of almost 163 million.


South Africa – Pressure on Zuma to give up power; Bishops: Act as a wise statesman and think of the good of the people          6-2-18

We appeal to President Zuma so that he acts as a wise statesman and step down for the good of the Country, say the Bishops of the Southern African Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) in a declaration on the South African political situation where President Jacob Zuma is under great pressure even by his own party, The African National Party, to step down before his term of office expires at end of 2019.

“The SACBC invites all called to take political decision, particularly with regard to the future role of President Zuma to be patient and quiet,” the bishops add.


India – northeast : the majority wants to eliminate the minorities patrimony           6-2-18

Salesian Archbishop Menamparambil, former archbishop of Guwahati, has said the majority Hindus want eliminated the patrimony and cultural identity of the five northeastern states: Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram. These states were created precisely to uphold their tribal culture, language, trade etc. and thus safeguard their identity. But, the archbishop says, while the ethnic groups in these states are infinitesimally small, compared to the national majority the Hindus, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules the centre, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, has declared “India for Hindus” – which goes against national interests and calls for the elimination of Christianity the overwhelming religion of these five states along with the tribals’ culture and patrimony.

Syria – Attack on Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate causing death and injuries          6-2-18

Armed groups have attacked the centre of Damascus where the patriarchate is located while they keep the eastern suburbs of the city under their control. The 5 February attack claimed two lives and injuries to three. Just nearby at the St George Syrian Orthodox cathedral, Russian volunteers had a little earlier distributed aid-packets to the local people.

Colombia – Parishes and new Evangelization: Objectives of Plenary Bishops’ Assembly          6-2-18

Our parishes must become an oasis which creates space to reintegrate many in the faith and invite others to conversion: oasis of mercy, of nearness, of listening, said Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio and President of the Colombia Bishops’ Conference. He spoke at the inauguration of the fifth plenary assembly of the bishops’ conferfence (5-9 February) at Bogotà.  The 89 bishops were meeting to look in depth the reality of the parish with the theme: The parish at the heart of New Evangelization.

Erupting volcano puts Philippine diocese under strain            6-2-18

Feeding thousands of people displaced by a volcanic eruption about 330 kilometers south of Manila has become a titanic struggle for the Catholic diocese most affected by the volcano, the bishop says.

Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi said providing food for 84,000 people has become a "tall order" especially because the threat posed by the erupting volcano is ongoing.

The bishop said church leaders and government officials have been cooperating closely over the past few days to provide for the needs of displaced residents. He said his diocese has devised ways to immediately respond to the needs of disaster victims, though providing basic requirements. The evacuees have been surviving on noodles, sardines, and other canned goods and dried fish in the past weeks.

Bishop Baylon said the diocese has started a micro-finance project for farmers in the area who plant and engage in agribusiness activities, whose produce will reach the displaced families.

On Feb. 4, Mount Mayon continued to spew lava, including a 500-meter high ash cloud.

Bangladeshi disabled children's center marks 25 years               6-2-18

A church-run centre offering vital services to poor disabled children in northern Bangladesh marked its silver jubilee on Feb. 3 with a call for local help amid a funding crunch.

Senhaneer (Home of Compassion), a shelter for handicapped children in Rajshahi city, has been in operation since 1992. It started helping two disabled children and now has 42 residents taken care of by nuns from Catechist Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Angels (CIC) congregation.

The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) congregation helps support the centre and secures overseas funding. Besides board and food, the centre offers children with disabilities basic education and vocational skills training.

Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi who attended the celebrations promised support to the nuns.

Philippine police chief Bible bashes church leaders             6-2-18

The Philippines' national police chief has attacked Catholic Church leaders who described the government's latest anti-narcotics campaign as "mere theatrics."

Policemen are reportedly showing Bibles and rosaries to drug suspects when they raid their homes in the hope they can persuade them to give themselves up quietly so the police cannot be accused of human rights abuses. Church leaders, however, warned the police not to use the Bible and the rosary as props. Bishop Pablo Virgillo David of Kalookan said the police should instead focus on resolving drug-related killings over the past months.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa argued that the bishops and priests have no monopoly on the Bible and the rosary.

Court rules against Indian Baptists banning Catholics          6-2-18

The top court in India's eastern Manipur state has declared illegal the expulsion of four Catholics from a Baptist-majority village. They were expelled on the pretext of a village edict banning other religions.

Manipur High Court last week struck down the edict imposed by authorities in Leingangching village after four Catholics petitioned against it saying they were expelled after they converted to Catholicism in 2009.

Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh said the regulation goes against the guarantees of the Indian constitution, which provides every Indian citizen the freedom to profess, practice and propagate a religion of choice. The Baptist-Catholic row made headlines last August after the village denied a burial plot for a woman who converted to Catholicism. 

Priests, nuns told to seek out people in unjust situations          6-2-18

Filipino men and women who commit themselves to the consecrated life have to bring the message of Jesus to those in "difficult and unjust situations."

This was the message Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, papal nuncio to the Philippines, had for Religious priests and nuns on the occasion of this year's World Day for Consecrated Life. The Vatican envoy reminded a gathering of Religious people on Feb. 2 to bring the message of Jesus to those who are in a "difficult and unjust situation."

As a symbolic gesture of their being one with the people, a group of priests and nuns washed the feet of 12 people, including a mother of an alleged victim of a drug-related killing, a former drug addict, and a Muslim woman during the celebration.



Vatican court finds two former Vatican bank officials guilty of mismanagement            7-2-18


Two former officials of the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), have been found guilty of criminal charges by a Vatican tribunal. Paolo Cipriani, the former director of the IOR, and Massimo Tulli, who was his deputy, had already been convicted last year in an Italian court for violation of laws against money-laundering. The two were forced to resign from the IOR in 2013 after a review of the banks accounts. The Vatican has not yet revealed the exact charges of which they were convicted.


Benedict XVI says he is now making a ‘pilgrimage home’            7-2-18

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has described himself as a man on a pilgrimage home.” In a letter to the Italian daily Corriere della Serra, responding to an inquiry about his health, the former Pontiff said thatin the slow decline of physical strengths, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage home.” He added: “It is a great grace for me to be surrounded, on this rather tiring last piece of the road, by a love and goodness that I could not have imagined.”


Archbishop Chaput opposes German calls for blessing homosexual unions             7-2-18


Philadelphias Archbishop Charles Chaput has said that calls for liturgical ceremonies to bless homosexual unions are a cause of serious concern.” Noting that the acceptance of same-sex unions by Church leaders in one area would inevitably have an impact elsewhere, Archbishop Chaput wrote in his archdiocesan newspaper that any such blessing ritewould cooperate in a morally forbidden act.” It would, be added, undermine the Catholic witness on the nature of marriage and the family.”

In a Bavarian state radio interview, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, Germany, had said that priests and parish staff workers should offer blessings for homosexual couples.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, a fellow German, has emphatically rejected the suggestion by Cardinal Reinhard Marx that the Church should bless homosexual unions.


Anti-Christian crime causes increasing concern in Germany           7-2-18


German conservative politicians have expressed shock after figures leaked by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) revealed 97 anti-Christian hate crimes in the country last year. The figure was only covered the period up to the end of November.

According to the reports, a quarter of the 97 cases comprised attacks on churches and Christian symbols, and there were 14 cases of violent "anti-Christian crimes" among asylum seekers or refugees. That number includes the murder of a Christian convert by a fellow refugee in Prien, Bavaria. There were also nine cases of bodily harm.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) party which governs that state, told the Funke group that integration in Germany required absolute tolerance of Christian values. "Anyone who wants to live here must distance themselves from any anti-Christian disposition," he said. "Otherwise, they are simply not welcome."


Bishops’ conference official laments inferior status of women in India                   7-2-18

Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas, president of the Council for Women of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), spoke to AsiaNews about a series of initiatives in favour of women, including "A social and political movement of women to fight for women's rights and raise awareness of the value of women in India". For the bishop, "women have the same dignity as men".

The aim of these initiatives by the Indian Church in favour of women is "to change the dominant mindset that generally considers them inferior to men". This "is a long process” in which “the Church is fighting for them".

Bishop Barbabas spoke after the Indian Ministry of Finance reported that the country had 21 million “unwanted girls” whose parents raise them even though they keep on having children until they have a boy. The authors of the report also found that 63 million women were "missing" from India's population because of sex-selective abortions, death or neglect.

Pointing out prevalent problem for women, he mentioned the widespread dowry system, unequal division of family assets among children, selective female abortions, difficulty in finding jobs, unequal pay etc.

The bishop says the church organizes conferences and meetings to inform the faithful about the value of women, training for jobs, career guidance etc. The church also conducts centres that take in abandoned women and girls, and allow them to study and find work.


Italy – 100,000 prostitutes in Italy victims of a system reducing women into slaves          7-2-18

In Italian streets there are 100,000 prostitutes, 70-80 thousand are Africans, mostly Nigerians, the others come from East Europe, Latin America and China. All are victims of a system that reduces women to slaves, cho are physically and psychologically violated. This is stated by a Consolata Missionary, Sr Eugenia Bonetti, who synthesizes the way ladies are treated. She spoke on the occasion of World Day of Prayer against women slavery, 8 February. They are all minors. poor and uneducated, they said. As soon as they are brought here when they expect to end their misery crossing the Mediterranean not without risks, they are sold away by the traffickers.

Burkina Faso – Seoul Archdiocese and Ouagadogou accord: we want to share your burden      7-2-18

An accord was signed on 5 February by Seoul Archbishop, Cardinal Andew Yeom Soo-jung and his auxiliary, Koo Yo-bi and Prof. Kim Young-sik, the president of Seoul’s St Mary’s Hospital at their visit to 6-day visit to Burkino Faso. This was to strengthen the cooperation in evangelization with the aim of promoting sustainable development in the field of medicine and education and financial support in/to Burkino Faso.


Zambia – Nuncio: May the world support Zambia and UNHCR to help Congolese refugees       7-2-18

The Catholic church of Zambia is profoundly grateful to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for its generosity and humaneness with regard to victims of conflict. I request the international community to give attention to this crisis as it deserves and help refugees, in particular, women and children to meet the primary needs of survival. So said Archbishop Julio Murat, the apostolic nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, during visit to the refugee transit camp at Kenani and refugee resettlement at Mantapala inNchelenge district of Zambia. He said Zambia deserves praise for opening its confines to asylum seekers who flee from civil war in their country of origin. The Vatican too is grateful to Zambia for accommodating UNHCR.

Nepal – Restrictions, discomforts and injustice towards religious minorities         7-2-18

The Christian, Muslim and Buddhist minorities in Nepal are often subject to grave injustice. This is highlighted by Bharat Giri, a Christian leader and president of a political party which tries to encourage Christians to defend their rights, ‘being a country of Hindu majority, in society and in politics, there is development of only Hindu people and their culture.’ One of the determining factors

To wards religious freedom rights in Nepal is October 2017 law which criminalises religious conversion. Giri says this law is used much as an instrument of oppression to punish those who decide to become Christians. Hence the call by CB Gahatraj, the secretary general of the national Christian federation of Nepal for the repeal of the law which also penalises missionary work.

Activists fret as India slides down democracy index             7-2-18

India has plummeted 10 places to 42nd on the annual Global Democracy Index (GDI) in the space of a year, causing civil society and political groups to express concern about where the country is headed.

Pro-Hindu groups are gaining strength and vigilantism or other forms of violence against religious minorities is becoming more commonplace, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which provides information about risk and opportunities to nations, industry and management.

Released last week, the 2017 GDI report showed India had suffered one of the severest drops from 2016 while the total score of all 89 countries on the list was lower than 12 months earlier. It claimed India has become a more dangerous place for journalists, especially the central state of Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir in the north.

"The authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year," the report stated.

Pope visit museum to open in Bangladesh               7-2-18

Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka along with Vatican ambassador Archbishop George Kocherry have announced the setting up of a museum featuring items used by Pope Francis during his recent trip to Bangladesh.

The first exhibit would be the popemobile the pontiff used while in the South Asian country. The Christian Cooperative Credit Union Ltd (CCCUL) donated the car and put it on display at the training center. "At the Vatican, the pope was shown various car models that could be used ... but he ditched all expensive cars and chose this simple one. The car is now a holy object touched and blessed by the Holy Father," CCCUL President Babu Markus Gomes said. Gomes also said they wanted to preserve a rickshaw the pope sat in and promised to back church efforts to open a museum of items used by the pope during his visit.

Pope Francis visited Muslim-majority Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2 last year.


Young Filipinos mark Pro-Life Month with talk on love, sex            7-2-18

An organization campaigning for "respect and care for life from conception to natural death" is holding workshops for young Filipinos on identity, love and sexuality.

The Pro-Life Philippines Foundation is doing the rounds of schools for "Theology of the Body" talks that discuss Catholic Church teachings with young people as part of Pro-Life Month.

Rollie Delos Reyes, one of the speakers, said the influences of "pornography, sexualized imagery in the media and materialism make young Filipinos believe that sex is dirty."

Reyes said, however, that "God's design for human sexuality is spiritual communion."

At least 80 young people attended the first of the series on talks on Feb. 4.

It was described as a "crash course on Pope John Paul II's vision of the human person, love, marriage and sexuality." 

Land deal scandal entangles Indian cardinal             7-2-18

Priests from the Syro-Malabar Church in India have accused Cardinal George Alencherry, its major archbishop, of hiding the truth about liabilities of nearly US$13 million from land deals.

In a series of transactions over the past two years, the cardinal's Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese has incurred a liability of about 800 million Indian rupees (US$12.5 million) in terms of missing money and bank loans, an official statement shows.

The presbyteral council, a canonical representative body of priests, holds two senior priests and Cardinal Alencherry responsible for the deals, which they say bypassed canonical bodies and financial advisors in the archdiocese.


Philippine Supreme Court declares military rule legal          7-2-18


Manila's move to extend martial law for another year in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao is legal, according to the country's Supreme Court.

The court ruled on Feb. 6 there were sufficient grounds for the extension of military rule in the region following a terrorist attack in the city of Marawi last year. "Public safety requires the extension [of the martial law] as shown by facts presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines," read the Supreme Court ruling.

Human rights groups warned the ruling "will create a favorable condition for the military to continue its rampage on people's rights with impunity."




Cardinal Marx did not endorse ceremonies for same-sex couples: German bishops’ conference                    8-2-18

The German Catholic bishopsconference has issued a statement indicating that Cardinal Reinhard Marx did not endorse, during a recent radio interview, liturgical blessings for same-sex couples. A transcript of the interview, provided by the episcopal conference, shows that when asked whether the Church would allow such ceremonies, the cardinal replied that he saw no general solutionsand would leave the question to the pastors discretion.


Pope appeals for joint action to contrast human trafficking             8-2-18

Speaking on the eve of the Day of Prayer and Awareness Raising against Human Trafficking, Pope Francis urged civil society and institutions to take concrete action to protect the victims and eliminate this terrible scourge that affects so many forced migrants and refugees.

“I invite everyone, citizens and institutions, to join forces to prevent the slave trade and to guarantee protection and assistance for the victims” he said during the weekly General Audience in the Vatican.

He reminded those present that 8th February is the Feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, an occasion to join in prayer and action against the trade of human beings.


DR Congo – Mass for the repose of the souls of victims of repression of 21 January Demo      8-2-18

On 9 February a Mass was held in the Cathedral of our Lady of Congo, at Kinshasa, for the repose of the souls of the victims of oppression of 21 January demonstration, organized by Lay Coordination Committee, a group officially recognized by Kinshasa archdiocese. This was a sequel to the 31 December demonstration asking the government to act in keeping with the Accord of 31 December 2016, signed by the Majority and Opposition parties to bring about democratic, free, transparent election in accordance with the Constitution.

Caritas plans for disposal of electronic waste material in Ghana from all over the world           8-2-18

Caritas Ghana has launched a programme to deal with the electronic waste material when enter Ghana from developed countries in order to reduce toxicity produced in processing and preserve the area good for future generation. Agblogbloshie, a suburb of Accra the capital is considered the vastest dumping group for the electronic waste where about 70,000 people majority of whom try to salvage some electronic spare parts and, in the process, pollute the atmosphere gravely.

Annually, Ghana accepts about 300,000 tonnes of electronic waste of which about 1% is processed in accordance with international standards.


Colombia – Venezuelan emergency: Caritas Colombia Lenten campaign for solidarity           8-2-18

With a view with some resources to meet the humanitarian crisis to which Venezuela has been pushed the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia has launched, during the bishops’ assembly, a Lenten campaign of solidarity promoted by Caritas, which this year will make a fund collection for assistance centres to help Venezuelan immigrants and repatriated Colombians.

Philippine Senate approves National Bible Day observance            8-2-18


The Philippine Senate has approved a bill that will declare the last Monday of January each year as "National Bible Day" to celebrate the Christian faith and reflect on the Scriptures.

The bill was tabled by boxing champion-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao, a born-again Christian, who quotes Bible verses in his speeches.

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte also declared the month of January "National Bible Month" and every last week of January as "National Bible Week." Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon of the Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate said the Senate's decision was a "very nice move."

Church in Indonesia maps out future for indigenous Papuans             8-2-18

The Catholic Church in Papua province and human rights groups have mapped the territories of indigenous people to encourage the Indonesian government to protect their environment.

The coalition launched the website on Feb. 5 with maps of territories and locations that have become concession areas for mining and palm plantations.

Sacred Heart Father Anselmus Amo, who heads Merauke Archdiocese's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, said they wanted the government to recognize indigenous people's land so as not to issue permits that engulfed their environment.

China Church further squeezed by revised regulations              8-2-18

After China's new regulations for religious affairs were enforced on Feb. 1, minors have been banned from entering places of worship in several regions, while Protestant house churches in Henan province have been forced to close. 

These are but a few examples of a range of government actions in restricting religious activities on the mainland.   

Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said that the government was tightening religious rules, with one source telling him there would be no Mass in a Shanghai underground church. "The priest has told Catholics not to come because there will be no Mass since they have not registered," Cardinal Zen said.

A priest in Hebei province who asked to be anonymous said that authorities had asked clergymen in some parts of the province to post signs prohibiting minors from entering religious venues, prayer houses and other church premises.

India's bishops elect Cardinal Gracias as conference chief             8-2-18

India's Catholic bishops' conference elected Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai as its new president on Feb. 8 at its biannual gathering in the southern city of Bangalore.

Cardinal Gracias, 74, takes over from Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, who led the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), for two terms over the last four years. Cardinal Gracias takes over at a politically sensitive time for India as the country faces national elections next year and provincial elections in several key states this year amid fears of hard-line Hindu groups gaining strength.

"We are all proud of him," Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the conference said of Cardinal Gracias, who is a member of a nine-member team of cardinals Pope Francis chose to help him revamp the Vatican's administration.



English bishop: saving marriage more important than Brexit                    9-2-18

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said that the Church has a far greater interest in defending marriage than in discussing Britains withdrawal from the European Union. “There are currently many anxieties around Brexit,he said, yet even this seems a small issue when compared with the human and social crisis now assailing the institution of marriage and impacting upon the future of the family.”


Bermuda repeals same-sex marriage              9-2-18


Governor John Rankin of Bermuda has signed a bill that makes the island the worlds first jurisdiction to reverse legal approval of same-sex marriages.


Islamic State moving into Somalia, prelate warns                     9-2-18

The Islamic State is moving militants into Somalia, taking advantages of the chaotic situation in that country, reports Bishop Giorgio Bertin, the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu. Attacks on non-Muslims have become increasingly common, he says.


Estonian prime minister meets Pontiff                9-2-18

Pope Francis met on February 9 Estonias Prime Minister Juri Ratas. Their conversation centered on Church-state relations, but also touched on European affairs, environmental concerns, and questions of immigration.


Over 9 million pilgrims visited Fatima during centennial year          9-2-18


2017 was a bumper year for the Shrine of Fátima with 9.4 million pilgrims visiting, many of them present at the celebrations for the Centenary of the Apparitions presided over by Pope Francis.

Last year, the highest number of visitors came from Spain, Italy, Poland and the USA with an estimated 72 million watching the Centenary of the Apparitions celebration on TV.


Background: World Day of the Sick              9-2-18


February 11, 2018 is the 26th World Day of the Sick, a commemoration instituted by St. John Paul II. The World Day of the Sick takes place each year on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The title of Pope Francis’ message for the day is “Mater Ecclesiae [Mother of the Church]: ‘Behold, your son... Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.’“ (Jn 19:26-27)

In his letter instituting the commemoration, St. John Paul wrote that the day should be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind.”


Nigeria - The Bishops: "Various areas of Nigeria are on the verge of civil war"          9-2-18

"Various parts of Nigeria live in a situation of almost civil war". This is the alarm presented by the Bishops of Nigeria directly to the President of the Nigerian Federation, Muhammadu Buhari, during a meeting that a delegation of the local Episcopal Conference had with the Head of State.
The Bishops recalled that Buhari’s election, which took place three years ago, aroused strong hopes in the population because they saw an honest person who cares about the good of the Country. "Nearly three years later, however one has the feeling that this good will is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government which we have the moral responsibility to bring to your notice, else we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders".
The first problem is that of violence in various areas of Nigeria made worse thanks to economic recession, they said. In particular, the Bishops denounced the "violent attacks by unscrupulous persons, among whom are terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, have led to a near civil war situation in many parts of the country".

India - Indian Bishops are on the Dalits side                 9-2-18

At the end of the plenary assembly, the Bishops have committed themselves to helping Catholic educational institutions to create spaces for disadvantaged Dalit students; to promote initiatives aimed at promoting the rights and development of Dalits and to remove every trace of discrimination based upon caste.

The Dalits ("untouchables") are in the last rung of society, a status given by God himself, according to the Orthodox Hindu law Manu Smriti and hence have been subject to the dominant castes and deprived not only of their human dignity, but also the right to be human.

In their assembly the Bishops recalled that the Church should not only promote development programs and social inclusion of the Dalits, but is called to "initiate a deeper understanding of the causes and manifestations of deprivation, discrimination and exclusion of Dalit Christians within the Church, by the larger society and by the State"

The Indian Bishops, gathered in Bangalore for the assembly of the Indian Bishops' Conference (which brings together the Pastors of the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites) have reaffirmed their commitment and involvement in promoting and supporting the life and social status of the Dalits.

Indonesia shuts down dozens of LGBT sites     9-2-18


Indonesia has persuaded Google to pull 73 applications and shut down 169 websites related to the country's LBGT community.

The crackdown comes on the heels of proposals in parliament in January to outlaw gay and premarital sex. It also follows a year in which more than 300 men were arrested in raids on gay venues across the country.

The apps removed from Google's Play Store included the gay dating app Blued, which boasts 27 million users worldwide.

Indian govt admits rise in religion-based hate crime            9-2-18

India's pro-Hindu government has presented detailed data in parliament showing a surge in religion-based violence since it came to power four years ago.

The statistics, revealed on Feb. 6, confirm a long-standing allegation by rights groups that the situation is worsening.

In 2017, 111 persons were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 cases of sectarian violence, the highest figure in the past three years. In 2016, 86 persons were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents of religion-based violence. 

Parliament was told that the highest number of sectarian incidents was reported in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, which has 200 million people, some 40 million of them Muslims. The state, where the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in last year's provincial elections, witnessed 195 incidents of religion-based violence in 2017, claiming 44 lives and injuring 452 people.

Catholic schools in India's Manipur targeted by insurgents                 9-2-18

The local government in insurgency-hit Manipur has assured Catholic schools in this northeastern Indian state that security will be stepped up if needed following media reports that militants have issued threats against them, seen as veiled attempts at extortion.

The schools were due to open this week after a six-week-long Christmas vacation but many have delayed doing so.

Education Minister T. Radheshyam and Chief Minister N. B. Singh have vowed to crack down on whoever was issuing the threats and provide the schools with additional security if needed, said Salesian Father P. X. Francis, principal of Don Bosco School in the state capital Imphal. Many of the state's 72 Catholic schools, 17 higher secondary schools and three colleges were slowly returning to normal later in the week.



Pakistan – “Christ holds Pakistan’s Christians in His arms”          10-2-18

Christ the Good Shepherd holds Pakistan’s Christians in His arms; He consoles, gives His life for them, nourishes His people. So goes the hope message of Archbishop Joseph Arshad the new bishop of Islamabad- Rawalpindi at the installation ceremony in St Mary’s School on 10 February.

To hold a large number of people- in fact 3000- along with all the bishops and a large number of priests and religious, the venue was shifted from St Joseph Cathedral to this school. Talking of Christ as the Good Shepherd, the bishop said, Christ does not at all allow His flock to perish – by even giving His very life. He said every person, priest, parent, doctor, teacher, government official, every one of us is called to be a pastor and hence called to do his part, becoming a good pastor exactly as Jesus took up our flesh.

Our vocation in Pakistan to be good builder of the Kingdom of God. As Christians, we need to fix our gaze on Christ and hold on to Him in our difficulty, crisis and problems, Archbishop Arshad said.

The bishop’s remarks gave a pep to the Christian minority which has faced various forms of injustice, discrimination and calumny.


Ecuador – To give sense to human frailty: the Day of the Sick in the diocese of Loja     10-2-18

We would like to ask the Lord to bless these sufferings and give a sense to human frailty, said Fr Fabian Delgado, the director of the family department of Loja diocese, in his homily at the Mass with

the Unction of the Sick, celebrated on 8 February in the cathedral on the occasion of the 26th World Day of the Sick. On the day of the Sick, started in 1992 in Lourdes by St John Paul II, Fr Delgado thanked all the institutions and people who have taken up initiatives to accompany those who suffer and to be vigilant over those who have greater needs. In the priority of services of the diocese come the administration of sacrament of confession, unction and communion and conversation with the sick to show oneness in their suffering.



Pope’s Angelus of Sunday 11 February 2018              11-2-18


Gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis reflects on Jesus the healer of both body and soul on the World Day of the Sick. Here’s the summary of the Pope’s address.

These Sunday Gospels, according to Mark, present us with Jesus healing the sick of all kinds. The World Day of the Sick is well placed in this context, which is why we celebrate it today, February 11th, the feast-day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

With our hearts turned toward the cave of Massabielle, therefore, we contemplate Jesus as the true physician of our bodies and souls – Jesus, whom God the Father sent into the world to heal humanity, marked by sin and its consequences.

Today's Gospel presents us with the healing of a man suffering from leprosy, a disease which in the Old Testament was considered a serious impurity and involved the separation of the leper from the community.

"If you want to, you can purify me!". When He hears this, Jesus feels compassion. It is very important to focus our attention on this interior resonance of Jesus, as we did for a long time during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This is what drives Him to reach out to the man suffering from leprosy, to touch him and to say to him: "I want to: be cleansed!".

The most disturbing fact is that Jesus touches the leper, because this was absolutely forbidden by the Law of Moses. But in this case the impurity does not flow from the leper to Jesus to transmit the disease, but from Jesus to the leper to purify him. Disease certainly involves the whole person, but in no way does it affect or impede that person’s relationship with God. On the contrary, a sick person can be even more united to God.

Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our Immaculate Mother, we ask the Lord, who brought healing to the sick, to heal our inner wounds with His infinite mercy, to give us back hope and peace in our hearts.