11-17 June, 2018



Pro-Abortion vote“culmination of a quiet revolution” says Irish PM          11-6-18


Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has described a May 25 vote paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks gestation as the “culmination of a quiet revolution.” It marks another watershed moment in the parting of ways between many Irish voters and the once all-powerful Catholic Church, termed “as the most Catholic country in the world” by Pope Paul VI.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, primate of All Ireland, said he was “very deeply saddened” by the fact that voters “appear to have obliterated the rights, including the right to life, of all unborn children from our Constitution and that the country now appears to be on the brink of legislating for a liberal abortion regime.”

In the wake of this referendum, all hospitals which receive public funding will be required to perform abortions, the prime minister has announced. Individual doctors and nurses may decline involvement, but institutions—including Catholic hospitals—will not have that option, he said.


Pope accepts resignation of Chile’s Bishop Barros            11-6-18


Three weeks after all 31 active Chilean bishops joined in a mass resignation, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero, 75; Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortáza, 75; and Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, 61.

Bishop Barros was a close associate of Father Fernando Karadima, who sexually abused minors. In 2015, the Pope appointed Bishop Barros as head of the Diocese of Osorno, provoking much controversy and a subsequent Vatican investigation and papal apology.
The other two Chilean prelates whose resignations the Pope accepted are over 75 years old and thus due for retirement. 


Filipino bishops say Duterte’s rhetoric feeds violence against Church           11-6-18


A Filipino archbishop has called upon President Rodrigo Duterte to “stop the verbal persecution of the Catholic Church,” suggesting that the president’s violent rhetoric has been a factor in the violence against priests. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, in a statement also signed by his auxiliaries, decried the hundreds of death-squad killings that have occurred during Duterte’s term in office. “They are killing our flock,” the bishops said. “The nation is a killing field.”

Spain agrees to welcome rescue boat after Italy, Malta refuse       11-6-18

Spain has announced it will let a ship holding 629 migrants and refugees, who were rescued from the Mediterranean, dock on its shores, after Italy and Malta refused to accept the vessel.

Doctors Without Borders operating on the Mediterranean Sea tweeted June 11 that among those on board were seven pregnant women, 15 people with serious chemical burns, several suffering from near drowning and hypothermia, and 123 unaccompanied minors.

Meanwhile, the Rome-based Sant’Egidio Community called on Italy to remain faithful to its traditional values, starting with the duty to save human lives that are in danger. In a June 11 press release, it also urged other European Union nations to fulfill their responsibilities, reminding them that rescue ships are allowed to dock in other countries bordering the Mediterranean, not just Italy and Greece.

Jesuit Father Camillo Ripamonti, president of “Centro Astalli,” the Jesuit Refugee Service refugee centre in Rome, criticized “demonstrations of power” and putting politics before the lives of migrants, in a statement released June 11.


More attacks against Catholic schools feared as new school year starts in Madhya Pradesh

After recent attacks by Hindu radicals against Catholic schools in Madhya Pradesh, a feeling of fear has spread among the schools as elections approach, this according to Fr Maria Stephen, spokesman for the Catholic Church in the Madhya Pradesh.

Some "507 Catholic educational establishments are active in the state,” he explained. “We St Joseph Convent School in Ratlam district  will continue our educational apostolate, provide a service to the community, and offer quality education to the nation and the people, from the remotest rural areas to the suburbs, from villages to cities." The other institution to suffer most recently is St Mary Post graduate college in Vidisha.

In the Indian state, "the Catholic Church is active in the field of education for all communities - Hindus, Muslims, Christians, tribals and Dalits. Everyone, nobody excluded," explained Fr Stephen, "They are all our children."


Togo - Political crisis: the people insist on institutional reform and true democracy        11-6-18


“(Tolgolese) people have understood that the country needs institutional and constitutional reform to achieve true democracy, peace and development", says Fr Jules Adjator, Regional Superior of the Society of African Missions of Togo.

The priest says that peaceful protests asking for constitutional reforms were suppressed, thanks to the Gnassingbe family regime for half a century; demonstrations have continued since; the Togolese want to change their leaders, to give the young people in the country a new impetus.

Fr Adjator says that the Bishops of Togo are deeply concerned about the socio-political situation and The Bishops are deeply concerned about the socio-political situation and have considered it appropriate to promote a prayer of supplication for peace in all the dioceses, especially in favor of institutional and constitutional reforms and prayer for peace, especially in favour of institutional and constitutional reforms. They invite every to moderation and hope for dialogue between the government and the opposition. Fr Adjator adds that the people want the President of the Republic to announce that he will not run for the next presidential elections in 2020.

DR Congo - The Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Mbandaka denounce: "We are abandoned by the State"             11-6-18


"The Bishops emphasize that the Equator is not connected well to the rest of the Country, which is abandoned to itself and does not benefit from the assistance of the central government. All the major projects of the government of Kinshasa have no impact on the local society. The roads are in total ruin while the health sector is not able to offer care to the population". Thus Fr. Gaspard Ndjoli, Executive Secretary of the Provincial Episcopal Conference of Mbandaka, summarizes the strong concern of the Bishops of the Congolese Province of Equator on the local socio-economic situation during the press conference on the conclusions of the Assembly of Bishops, held from May 29th to June 1st in Kinshasa.
During the meeting, the Bishops denounced the tragic socio-economic and security situation in the five new provinces born from the dismemberment of what was the province of the Great Equator. 


Singapore - Christians pray for the US-North Korea summit                 11-6-18


Catholics and Christians of other confessions have gathered in prayer, in several churches in Singapore, in view of the summit between the US and North Korea on the agenda for 12 June in Singapore. Catholic Archbishop of Singapore William Goh is encouraging Catholics to pray for the upcoming US-North Korea Summit. As stated, the initiative is in tune with the appeal launched by Pope Francis in Sunday Angelus, 10 June.

May this be the start of a continuous effort to building strong relationships, freed from the burden of fear and the weight of suspicion, Archbishop Goh prays.

Meanwhile, Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon and President of the Episcopal Commission for society, commented on the summit in Singapore: "The summit between the US and North Korea is a new step towards peace in Korea, Asia and the whole world. In those moments the sad years of the war in Korea came to my mind: the millions of people who live the drama of families divided by the border came to mind. Today there is a new hope":


Lebanon - Maronite Patriarch says no to the 'naturalization decree': among the beneficiaries there are "suspicious names"               11-6-18


The so-called "naturalization decree" with which the Presidency of Lebanon is preparing to grant the Lebanese nationality to 375 foreigners must absolutely be withdrawn, also because among its potential beneficiaries there are "suspicious" names. This was stated on 11 June by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, intervening in a decisive manner in the controversy that is affecting the Country with regard to the "naturalization decree" regarding 375 mainly wealthy citizens of Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi origin. Among them, there are 260 Christians and 115 Muslims.
Media indiscretions on the investigations that the security services are carrying out on some people on the list, considered very close to the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad, contribute to the controversy.

Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai had expressed his objections to the decree of "naturalization" also in the homily of the Mass celebrated on Sunday 10 June, at the conclusion of the annual Synod of the Maronite Bishops.


Peru - People ask for transparency and fairness: Bishops are on the people's side           11-6-18


"Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security": is the biblical verse (Isaiah 32, 17) chosen by the Peruvian Episcopal Conference’s message addressed to public opinion. The Bishops defend the popular protests against the strong fiscal pressure, drug trafficking, violence against women and corruption.
Motivated by the "pastoral concern" of building "bridges of peace with all, seeking that no poisonous root must harm the community" the Bishops approve the "right protest reactions" that led to the resignation of the Minister of Economy since "we cannot further burden workers who demand economic improvements while, on the other hand, companies still enjoy great privileges such as tax exemptions".
However, they warn the people against being manipulated  by those who want to provoke violent acts.


Brazil - Liturgical songs in Ticuna language            11-6-18


In an attempt to make the inculturation of the liturgy a reality, inspired also by the Second Vatican Council, and caring for inculturation, the parish of Belem do Solimões, in the diocese of Alto Solimões, Brazil, organized a meeting in order to compose songs for the liturgy in the Ticuna language, with music played with local instruments used by the Ticuna people. Ticuna is indigenous language spoken by a large group of people of the same name, spoken in the region bordering Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

Goa BJP leaders to meet Archbishop             11-6-18

The pro-Hindu ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will soon formally seek an appointment with Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao as part of its 'Sampark se Samarthan' outreach programme to inform social influencers about achievements of the ruling party.
This is expected to be the first interaction of the Archbishop with BJP office-bearers after the former's pastoral letter earlier this week in which he claimed that India's Constitution was in danger, triggered controversy.
The BJP has refrained from commenting on the observations made by Archbishop Ferrao, who also said that "mono-culturalism" and threats over food habits, freedom of expressions were infringements of human rights.

Filipino migrant worker killed in Slovakia hailed a hero      11-6-18


Church leaders said a Filipino migrant worker recently murdered in Slovakia was a hero whose death carries a potent message that the millions of Philippine nationals working overseas are there to help, not harm.

Henry John Acorda, 36, a financial analyst, died on May 31 from injuries sustained after being beaten and kicked in the head by a 28-year old man believed to be a neo-Nazi on May 26. Acorda had reportedly intervened to stop the alleged attacker from harassing two women in Slovakian capital Bratislava.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops' conference, said, "With what [Acorda] did, we see the true and noble intentions of our migrant workers; Acorda's act of defending the women from attack "reflects our true nature of giving all we have, even our life, to improve lives, to defend lives." Bishop Santos said that Acorda died a hero.

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pelligrini condemned the incident and assured that justice will be served.




Australian attorney general backs law to break confessional seal            12-6-18


The attorney general of Australia has given his support to a law that would require Catholic priests to report sexual abuse of children that was disclosed in confession. Christian Porter said that the protection of children “should take some precedence” over the seal of confession.


Prepare ‘spiritually and materially’ to evangelize North Korea, bishop urges fellow South Koreans          12-6-18

Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon offered his assessment of the situation in Korea and praised President Moon Jae-in, a Catholic. The prelate added, “Foreign missionaries came to North Korea before the Korean War and described Pyongyang as the Jerusalem of Asia, because there were so many conversions to Jesus Christ. We, Catholics of the South, must think seriously about our missionary commitment to our brothers and sisters in the North. They too have a right to hear the Gospel, and we have the responsibility.”


Never forget the Holocaust, Pope says in message              12-6-18


For the June 9, 10 celebrations for the fortieth anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way in Berlin. Kiko Argüello, the founder’s composition The suffering of the Innocents was performed by the Berlin Philharmonic; the victims of the Shoah are commemorated in the composition.

Sending a message through the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis said, “The memory of this atrocious violence, of the unspeakable pain and of the extermination of a people, must never fade.”


Crimean parish, confiscated in 1936, given back to Church                12-6-18

The governor of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, has returned a Roman Catholic parish in Sevastopol (Crimea’s largest city) to the Diocese of Odessa-Simferopol. The parish was closed in 1936 under the Stalin regime and became a cinema. “It is difficult to find the words to express our joy,” said Auxiliary Bishop Jacek Pyl. “History is rich in wounds, a closed and desecrated church is one of them.”

Nigerian cardinal calls for negotiations with terrorists             12-6-18

As solutions devised so far in facing Hoko-Haram terrorism have not worked, Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan is proposing a controversial alternative: Negotiate with terrorists.

The archbishop of Abuja has been backing talks with Boko Haram, the violent Islamist militant group operating in the northern parts of the country. Negotiating with terrorists is vehemently opposed by governments in Africa and around the world due to concerns that concessions could inspire more attacks.

Speaking at a recent Nairobi conference of religious leaders from Africa, Europe and Asia, Cardinal Onaiyekan insisted that interfaith dialogue is key to ending the deadly conflicts — even if it means sitting down with ruthless killers. ‘That will be an easier way of handling grievances than guns,” he said, “The aim is not to kill all Boko Haram, but to arrive at reconciliation so that people can go home to their families.”


Bishop speaks out against special Chinese economic zones in Vietnam            12-6-18


People including Catholics across Vietnam have objected to the government's controversial plans to establish three new special economic zones that they fear will be controlled by Chinese investors.

On June 10, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and other cities to hold peaceful protests against the draft law on the zones.

The draft law "contains many risks and dangers of causing damage to the nation's interests, especially encroaching on our security and sovereignty," said Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, head of the Episcopal Commission on Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam.

The bishop said major concessions on tax, land lease periods and business sectors regulated would "surely bring excess profits to foreign speculators and domestic interests groups."


DR Congo - Lay Catholics call for full light to be shed on the death of a civil rights activist        12-6-18


The circumstances of the death of Luc Nkulula, an activist of the Movement for Change (Lutte pour le Changement -Lucha), whose charred body was found in his house burned in the night between 9 and 10 June in Goma, capital of North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are still uncertain. According to the members of Lucha, Nkulula was the victim of an attack.
The Lay Coordination Committee (CLC), the lay association of the Congolese Church which organizes the anti-Kabila demonstrations, expressed its "dismay" regarding the disappearance of the activist and called for full light to be shed on his death. Like many other Congolese citizen movements, Lucha participated in the three demonstrations supported by the Catholic Church against the regime of Joseph Kabila on December 31, 2017, January 21 and February 25, 2018, which were repressed by police forces.


Egypt - Fire in a church, through mosque’s loudspeakers the imam calls for help            12-6-18


The flames of an accidental fire burst in a church in the middle of the night which led to the imam of the nearby mosque to use the speakers of the Muslim place of worship to sound the alarm and call everyone to intervene to extinguish the flames. This is what happened in Shubra al Khaymah, in the northern area of the great urban area of Cairo, during the night between 10 and 11 June. Around midnight, the flames reached the wooden scaffolding put up for the works of reconstruction around the Orthodox Coptic church of Anba Makar. The alarm in the neighbourhood was launched by Sheikh El Jamea, imam of the nearby mosque, and responded to by many young Muslims who were eating together.

Anba Morcos, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Shubra al Khaymah, publicly thanked the imam for the promptness of his intervention.


Bangladesh - "War on drugs": an approach that respects human rights is necessary         12-6-18


An approach respectful of human rights and dignity regarding the problem of drugs in Bangladesh is urgent: says Rita Haldar, a social assistant who works in Dhaka, commenting on the "war on drugs" that security forces in Bangladesh have launched, approved on May 15th and killing over 140 people and arresting 18,000 in three weeks. This is the result of the campaign promoted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who, according to some observers, has accepted an approach used by the President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines.

"There is a violent and repressive approach, which does not rule out extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests, and the repression in the country must stop", notes Haldar. "An alternative to killing and arresting people indiscriminately is urgent", she says. "People who have problems with drugs in the country need to follow a process of rehabilitation and reintegration into society rather than violence or being eliminated.


The Bishops: proclamation of the Gospel in synodality              12-6-18


To have a vision of the Cuban reality and proceed in the name of "synodality" with the sister Churches of the South and Central America, elaborating the guidelines of pastoral action that will guide the life of the Church on the island: it is with this approach that the Episcopal Conference of Cuba held the extraordinary Assembly in Havana from May 28 to 30. It was a meeting of study, reflection and work of pastoral organization, characterized by "collegiality".
An initial study session led by the President of the Conference Mgr. Emilio Aranguren Echeverría, Bishop of Holguín, focused on what to live collegiality and synodality means, illustrating and commenting the text published by the International Theological Commission "Synodality in the life and mission of the Church".


India's top Muslim cleric wants govt to change its ways            12-6-18

The chief cleric of India's Muslims, who comprise more than 14 percent of the nation's 1.2 billion people, has accused the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national government of abusing practitioners of Islam.

Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, popularly known as Shahi Imam, issued a public statement after a June 9 meeting with the federal minister for parliamentary affairs, Vijay Goel, held ahead of elections due next May. Bukhari, who leads prayers at India's largest mosque, New Delhi's Jamia Masjid, had previously spoken out against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had a landslide election win in 2014. There is one year left for election; if they do something, it's welcome but we have a lot of complaints," Bukhari said.


Philippine church leaders stand up against killings of priests            12-6-18

Catholic church leaders in the Philippines are standing up against the attacks and killings of members of the clergy in recent months.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said "freedom is fake" because people are "toying around with justice" amid the spate of killings in the country.

"We repeat: It is against the will of God to destroy life. Killing is not a solution to personal and societal problems," said the Cardinal in his Independence Day message.

The Philippines marked its 120th Independence Day on June 12, two days after assassins shot and killed Catholic priest Richmond Villaflor Nilo.

Cardinal Tagle appealed to Filipino Catholics in the Archdiocese of Manila to "seek God's forgiveness for our sins against life." Church leaders have declared June 18, the ninth day of the death of Fr Nilo, as a ‘Day of Reparation.’


Vietnam bars dissident priest from traveling abroad            12-6-18

A priest who is known for speaking out against Vietnam's communist government has been banned from leaving the country.

On June 11, Father Joseph Nguyen Duy Tan(40), pastor of Tho Hoa parish in Dong Nai province, was stopped at Tan Son Nhat International Airport by public security officers in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Airport officers said in a document that Father Tan "has not yet been allowed to travel abroad at the request of the Public Security Department of Dong Nai province." They did not give more details. They also asked the priest to contact the department to deal with the case.


Filipinos protest 'subservient foreign policy'            12-6-18


Activists marched in Manila on June 12 to protest what they described as the Philippine government's continuing "subservient foreign policy" to both China and the United States.

The protesters marked the country's 120th Independence Day celebration a week after Filipino fishermen were driven out of their traditional fishing ground in the South China Sea. "The Philippines cannot be truly free, not when foreign powers collude to take advantage of our people and resources," said the New Patriotic Alliance in a statement.

The country's Catholic bishops also lamented the "erosion" of the country's independence under President Rodrigo Duterte. "This president is very subservient to China. He seems not to mind that China is encroaching on our clear territory," said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon.


Faisalabad mayor pays pensions of Christian sanitation workers after 6 months of waiting           12-6-18
After six months of waiting, the former employees of the Faisalabad City Waste Management Company received their monthly pension. At least 2,200 people, 90 per cent of whom are Christian, were waiting for this since the start of the year. They organised on 10 June a protest in front of the company’s offices. Mayor Malik Razzaq signed the cheques on 11 June.

Pensions range from 2,500 to 10,000 Pakistani rupees (US$ 22 to US$ 88), based on the years of service. The mayor promised that the pensions for the next four months will be paid following Eid celebrations, which mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

However, the pensioners’ union pledged more protests to hold the mayor to his word.




Council of Cardinals finishes draft for reorganization of Roman Curia             13-6-18

In its 25th meeting this week, the Council of Cardinals completed work on a first draft of a new apostolic constitution, which would reorganize the offices of the Roman Curia. The document, tentatively entitled Praedicate Evangelium will now be submitted to Pope Francis for his approval. 
The Vatican announced the completion of the draft document on June 13, as the Council of Cardinals completed a three-day working session. Pope Francis attended all of the discussions, except on Wednesday when he held his regular weekly audience. The Council will hold its next meeting in September.


2018 World Cup championship an opportunity for encounter, dialogue and fraternity             13-6-18

During the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis spoke of 2018 World Cup as an event that overcomes all boundaries. He wished: “May this important sporting event become an opportunity for encounter, dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and religions, favouring solidarity and peace among nations.”

Australian archbishop: bid to break confessional seal is ‘premature and ill-judged’         13-6-18

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, the president of the Australian bishops’ conference, said that new legislation in the country’s capital territory, requiring priests to inform civil authorities about sexual abuse disclosed in confession, is “seemingly driven by a desire to penalise the Catholic Church without properly considering the ramifications of the decision.” He voiced his concern that similar legislation would be passed in other jurisdictions.


Nuncio ‘full of hope and confidence’ following ‘truly historic’ Kim-Trump summit           13-6-18

Commenting on the historic Kim-Trump summit in Singapore, the Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea, Archbishop Alfred Xueren said, “The Holy See wishes to offer its support to any initiative in favour of dialogue and reconciliation and also take advantage of this to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the archbishop of Seoul Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, preached on June 12: “When I learned that there was a significant agreement between the two leaders [Kim and Trump] in their first meeting, I deeply thanked God because He listened to our prayers for reconciliation of the Korean people,” Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung preached on June 12. “I sincerely desire that the agreement can be implemented promptly in order to achieve the common good not only for the Koreans, but for all the people in the world.” Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik of Daejeon expressed similar sentiments.


Nicaraguan bishop urges people to stay inside as violence increases      13-6-18

Armed anti-riot police and pro-government paramilitary attacked barricades manned by anti-government protesters in eastern Managua, plunging city neighbourhoods in violence and chaos in an attempt to stamp out a two-month-old uprising against the government of President Daniel Ortega.

Cracks of gun fire resounded through the streets of the Nicaraguan capital as television footage showed turbulent scenes of armed security forces on foot and in trucks chasing young men away from street barricades.

Meanwhile, auxiliary bishop Silvio Jose Baez of Managua, has exhorted the people through tweeter to stay inside. “It is very dangerous because of the presence of violent gangs, Don’t risk life in vain.”


DR Congo - Children in Mbandak sing "Ebola, Go away!"             13-6-18


In Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a major campaign is underway to raise awareness and prevent the Ebola virus which exploded on May 8 in the northwestern province of Equateur.
The government and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are leading the charge, but some of the most effective work is done by the local community and Church leaders. In the archdiocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, for instance, sacraments such as baptisms and anointing ceremonies have been suspended to avert the risk of transmitting Ebola.
"Ebola is real", stressed community leader at an impromptu gathering near a marketplace. "Don’t play games with it, and don’t listen to rumours and lies being spread around that it is a fairy-tale, an international conspiracy, or as a result of witchcraft". In local schools in Mbandaka, teachers hammer home the message too, leading children through a special Ebola, Go away! song and making hand-washing and temperature-taking mandatory before class.


Central Africa - "No to the exploitation of religion to sow hatred and division" say Bishops and Imams                  13-6-18


"Religion is used to sow hatred among the population and divide the country", denounce in two different but concordant documents, the Catholic Bishops and the Imams of the Central African Republic.
"We draw the attention of Central Africans to avoid revenge that could lead to genocide and therefore to the realization of a hidden program to divide us. Be vigilant to avoid manipulation", the Bishops write in their memorandum entitled "Who can separate us from the love of Christ?".
"The acts of violence that have been happening for some time in Central Africa are aimed at turning the political crisis into a confessional crisis", say Islamic leaders in the memorandum "Peace, nothing but peace". The Catholic, Evangelical and Central African Muslim leaders in condemning the violence "have joined as one man to recognize the secular nature of our Country and the freedom of worship guaranteed by the Constitution to block the road to those who want to transform the political crisis into a community or confessional crisis", the Imams say.

China - An exhibition to commemorate the figure of the great Jesuit missionary Martino Martini in Hang Zhou             13-6-18


An exhibition dedicated to the cartographic work of Jesuit Fr. Martino Martini (1614-1661) was inaugurated on June 2 at the headquarters of the China-Italy Center in Hang Zhou, the capital of the Chinese Province of Zhe Jiang, to commemorate the 375th anniversary of the arrival of the great missionary in the city. 
Martino Martini, in Chinese Wei Kuang Guo, historian, geographer, cartographer, but above all a Jesuit missionary, is universally recognized and appreciated as a pioneer of cultural exchange between China and Italy, between Chinese and Western culture.
The missionary journeys of Martino Martini (1614-1661) allowed him to gather scientific information, especially regarding the geography of the Chinese Empire. Thanks to his linguistic and cultural preparation, similar to that of his confreres - from Matteo Ricci, to Michele Ruggieri, to Giulio Aleni -, Fr. Martini was the first editor of a Western-style Chinese grammar, and the first European geographer to compile geographical and cartographic works (the most famous of which, entitled Novus Atlas Sinensis, dates back to 1655) based on the knowledge of the territory of China. He was an original promoter of the dialogue between European and Chinese culture.


Musical celebrates saint who made China his home         13-6-18

The Society of the Divine Word has made a musical about St. Joseph Freinademetz to reflect the spirit of his mission in China. This year marks the 15th anniversary of his canonization while next year will be the 140th anniversary of his mission. The musical was staged in Putonghua at St. Margaret's Church of Happy Valley of Hong Kong in April. It will be performed this month in Cantonese at Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre. 

According to its producer, the musical reflected the saint's fire and his primary conviction that "love is the only language that everyone understands." Born in Austria in 1852 he joined the Society of the Divine Word three years after his priestly ordination and went to Hong Kong in 1879 along with his friend Johann Baptist von Anzer.

He learnt Cantonese and Hakka dialects, and dressed like a Chinese with a long beard and shaved his head with a braid behind. He was a very successful missionary in Shandong for 27 years and the number of Catholics increased to 40,000 while 40,000 were prepared to be baptized. As he was helping those affected by typhus, he himself became a victim and died when he was 56.


Critics slate India's businessmen in government plan        13-6-18

The Indian government has made the unprecedented move of recruiting professionals from private firms to be top civil servants, but critics that include senior church members call it dangerous, saying they are more likely to serve corporate interests than the nation's poor.

The federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the initiative aims to bring "fresh ideas and new approaches" to governance. According to media reports, up to 10 new recruits are to be appointed as "joint secretaries", and the new recruits will make policy decisions and implement welfare schemes, it said.

The move aims "to sabotage an efficiently-run system," said opposition Congress Party spokesperson P.L.Punia. Other critics of the move include Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Indian bishops' conference, who called it "a dangerous move." It is part of an "ongoing trend of big corporations taking over everything in this country," he said. He also said it undermines India's multi-level stringent examinations and interviews to select top bureaucrats.




Pope calls on astrophysicists ‘never to stop at a complacent agnosticism’             

“Just as we should never think we know everything, we should never fear to try to learn more,” the Pope told participants in the Vatican Observatory’s summer school in astrophysics. In addition to science, “there is another way of seeing things, that of metaphysics, which acknowledges the First Cause of everything, hidden from tools of measurement. Then there is still another way of seeing things, through the eyes of faith, which accepts God’s self-disclosure.”

Pope Francis calls the faithful to hear the cry of the poor           14-6-18


Repeating the words of the Psalmist ‘The poor man cried and the Lord heard him’ (Ps 34:7) Pope Francis, in his message for the second World Day of the Poor, to be observed on Nov.18, 2018, asks the faithful also to hear the cry and act.

“We are told, first of all, that the Lord listens to the poor who cry to Him and is good to those who seek refuge in him, their hearts broken by sadness, loneliness, and exclusion,” the Pope said. He explained the words ‘cry’, ‘answer’ and ‘free.’ The suffering of the poor cannot find proper expression and they cry – in their suffering, solitude, delusion and hope. The Lord answers; as salvation-history shows, his answer is an all-loving sharing in the condition of the poor. God intervenes liberating them from selfishness, pride, greed, and injustice that bring this poverty.

He encouraged the faithful to hear the poor’s cry and recognize it but indulge in acts that will bring pleasure to the undertaker and not the poor themselves.

The Pope’s message encourages a spirit of joy in the observance of World Day and to use it as an opportunity to get together, praying together as a community and perhaps sharing a Sunday meal.


French court rules JPII statue must be moved              14-6-18


A crane lifted the 13-tonne papal statue from a square in the town of Ploermel, Brittany, about 300 meters to nearby private land after an outcry by French secularists over it standing in a public place.

"This is the outcome, compliance with French law, respect for secularism and the decision of the Council of State," said Father Christophe Guegan, parish priest at Ploermel, adding he hoped "that it brings peace to the city".

It was erected under an arch topped by a cross in 2006. But the National Federation for Free Thought, a non-profit humanist organisation, took the issue to court alongside two local residents. France's highest administrative court ruled that the cross breached France's 1905 secularism law, which forbids religious symbols from being displayed on public monuments


Pope Francis: Migration is about persons            14-6-18


“I would like to point out that the issue of migration is not simply one of numbers, but of persons, each with his or her own history, culture, feelings, and aspirations…,” the Pope said his message to Second Holy See-Mexico Conference on International Migration held in the Vatican on 14 June. It was organized by the Secretariat for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, and by the Embassy of Mexico to the Holy See.

“These persons, our brothers, and sisters, need “ongoing protection”, independently of whatever migrant status they may have,” the Pope continued. “Their fundamental rights and their dignity need to be protected and defended. Particular concern must be shown for migrant children and their families, those who are victims of human trafficking rings, and those displaced due to conflicts, natural disasters, and persecution.”


Senegal - Caritas Senegal launches a national campaign for migrants and refugees         14-6-18


Caritas Senegal is organising a week of shared activities with migrants and refugees in Dakar, from 19 to 24 June, as part of the Global Action Week of Caritas Internationalis.
The Global Action Week on migrants is one of the highlights of the global "Share the Journey" campaign launched by the 165 Caritas organizations and launched by Pope Francis on 27 September 2017 at the Vatican. A symbolic launch meeting took place in Dakar, on the same date, at the Point d'Accueil pour Réfugiés et Immigrés (PARI), and was attended not only by PARI team, but also by the General Secretariat of Caritas Senegal, migrants and refugees in Senegal.
Caritas Senegal will organize various activities and meetings Friday to Sunday, 22nd- 24th June, to discuss, raise awareness and defend migrants; to promote the culture of encounter and solidarity and to pray in support of those migrants who live in particularly difficult conditions.
Among the initiatives promoted in this year's campaign is the "shared meal" with the migrants who find themselves in prison in Dakar on 23 June, and Sunday mass, on 24 June, in St. Joseph church in Medina.

Iraq - Christians in the Nineveh Plain host Muslims for breaking the fast Iftar meal           14-6-18


The initiatives of coexistence and reconciliation in the towns and villages of the Nineveh Plain in which the local Christian and Islamic communities find themselves sharing the Iftar, the evening meal with which the Muslims interrupt the daily fast, during the holy month of Ramadan, continue. On Tuesday, a community Iftar was hosted in the city of Bartella, 15 kilometers from Mosul, at the local socio-cultural centre of the Syro-Orthodox Church. The initiative also saw the participation of political and military representatives of Mosul and of the Province of Nineveh, together with members of the clergy of different Churches and Christian communities and leaders and faithful of the local Sunni Islamic communities.


Church hails big fall in India's childbirth deaths             14-6-18

Church leaders have welcomed a big reduction in India's maternal mortality rate, with nearly 12,000 fewer women dying during childbirth in 2016.

They said the improvement was the result of a joint effort by government and private health workers. 

India's maternal mortality rate (MMR) registered a 22 percent reduction in three years. This meant India saved the lives of nearly 12,000 pregnant women in 2016, UNICEF said in a statement analyzing the data.

The result is "very encouraging for us all because the Church is at the forefront of the health sector in the country," said Father Mathew Perumpil, secretary of the health office of the Indian Catholic Bishops' Conference. He said one reason for the achievement was that people were made aware about facilities by the government and privately-run health centers.

The government has introduced several schemes to provide free medicine and health checks for pregnant women in state facilities. Federal schemes are also available to ensure healthy food for pregnant women and newly born babies and their mothers. The World Health Organization and UNICEF also have praised India’s progress in the health field.


Pakistan rejects militant group registering as party          14-6-18

Pakistan's electoral watchdog has rejected a registration application from a newly launched political party linked to the suspected mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said on June 13, without elaborating, that the Muslim Milli League (MML) could not be registered as a political party. Commission spokesman, Altaf Ahmad, said an official reason for the rejection would be issued at a later date.

Members of the group contested by-elections last year, bagging an impressive number of votes that sounded alarm bells within the government.

The MML was founded by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the charity arm of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was co-founded by Saeed, and blamed for the Mumbai terror attacks. The group is also accused of backing militants in India's only Muslim-majority state Jammu and Kashmir, which is also claimed by Pakistan.


Vietnam cybersecurity law sparks public outcry              14-6-18

Activists and netizens in Vietnam claim a contentious law on cybersecurity is a legalized step to clamp down on dissident voices and rights advocates.

On June 12, the National Assembly passed the Cyber Security Law, the first law to regulate "all activities that protect national security and ensure public safety and order on the internet" and the responsibilities of relevant agencies, organizations and individuals. 

Internet service providers, including Facebook and YouTube, will be asked to remove "anti-state, offensive, slandering or inciting" contents from their platforms within 24 hours of receiving requests from authorities or police. The law also bans internet users from "distorting history" and "denying revolutionary achievements." They are not allowed to gather people for anti-state purposes, to divide the national bloc, spread false information or cause religious offence.

An IT expert at a company in Ho Chi Minh City said trying to prevent people from speaking ill of the Communist Party and state does not ensure cybersecurity but only poses risks of losing network security and hindering economic development.


Bishop dares Duterte to dish dirt on priestly sex scandals                14-6-18

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo has dared Philippine President Duterte to come good on a threat and reveal alleged sex scandals committed by priests; he said church leaders would thank the president if what he revealed was the truth.

The bishop, who heads the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, said the president's threats will not stop priests and bishops from criticizing his wrongdoings.

Catholic schools to teach India's secular constitution             14-6-18

All Catholic schools in India will educate their students about the country's constitution amid claims by hard-line Hindu groups that church leaders promoting human rights and secularism are attempting to destabilize the country at the behest of the Vatican.

The office for education and culture of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India issued a module on June 11 to use in all Catholic educational institutions during the academic year starting June-July.

"In this first stage, we have decided to focus on the preamble of the constitution," said Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta, who heads the education and culture office.

In its preamble, India's constitution presents the country as "a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic" which will secure social and economic justice, liberty of thought and religion, equality and human dignity for its citizens. He said the church's effort is to develop a generation of Indians who accept the values of equality for all beyond the differences of caste, religion and wealth.

The Catholic Church in India runs more than 50,000 education institutions including 400 colleges, six universities and six medical schools.




Worldwide drop in numbers of priests, seminarians            15-6-18

The number of Catholic priests and seminarians has dropped significantly over the past four years, new Vatican statistics show. The Annuarium, a statistical record made public on June 13, showed a slight decline in the number of world’s priests, and a more troubling 3% decline in the number of seminarians. The decline is most visible in Europe and the Americas. Africa is bucking the trend, with a steady rise in the number of priests and in the overall Catholic population.

They show that the world’s proportion of baptised Catholics stayed around the same from 2010-16: it was an estimated 1.299bn in 2016, more than a sixth of the world’s population. Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population: it rose from 185m in 2010 to 228m in 2016.


Australian priests still bound by confessional seal, bishop says        15-6-18

Despite a new law, Catholic priests in Australia remain bound by the absolute secrecy of the confession, Bishop Gregory O’Kelly said. Bishop O’Kelly—who earlier this month was named apostolic administrator of the Adelaide archdiocese, after Archbishop Philip Wilson was found guilty of failing to report abuse—said that the confessional seal, imposed by the nature of the sacrament, “does not change by the law of politicians.”


500 British priests sign statement of support for Humanae Vitae         15-6-18


Nearly 500 British priests have backed a statement in support of the teaching of ‘Humanae Vitae.’

The clergy from across the country signed the document as the 50th anniversary of the encyclical approaches. ‘Humanae Vitae’ affirmed traditional Christian teaching on the family and sexuality, and restated the Church’s total opposition to artificial contraception.


Argentina’s bishops lament lower house’s vote to legalize abortion           15-6-18


The bill to legalze abortion passed the Argentine lower house in a 129-123 vote and now proceeds to the senate.

“It is a decision that aggrieves us, as Argentinians. But the pain of forgetting and leaving out innocent people must turn into strength and hope, so that we can keep on fighting for the dignity of every human life”: This is stated by the Argentina’s Bishops Conference (Cea) after the Lower House passed a law that decriminalises voluntary termination of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the Bishops state, “no answers have been given yet to those women who have to carry an unexpected pregnancy, who are exposed to poverty, to social exclusion or to gender-based violence”.


Uganda - Bishops: "We are worried about the wave of kidnappings"; most of the victims are women             15-6-18


"We note with great concern that there has been an increase in kidnappings, organized crime and killings in our country", say the Bishops of Uganda in their final statement of their Plenary Assembly which ended on June 8th.
"We call upon the government and all security agencies to scale up their efforts to protect the life and property of Ugandans" write the Bishops who appeal to criminals to "stop committing these senseless criminal acts, and respect human life". In the first 4 months of 2018 the Ugandan police registered 42 cases of kidnapping for the purpose of extortion in the entire country, especially in the area of Kampala, the capital. Most of the victims are women and children.
The Bishops also say they are against the National Biosafety Act approved by Parliament in 2017, which will allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Burundi - Care and assistance for the ethnic minority Batwa, the forgotten Pygmies          15-6-18

The Batwa, an ethnic group which represents about 2% of population in Burundi, is a community still strongly discriminated against in one of the poorest counties in the world. It is a govt-recognized minority but has no rights. They are mostly illiterate and live in very precarious housing structures. Today this population survives mostly by begging.
The Church has taken some initiatives to take care of this "forgotten minority". Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, of the diocese of Muyinga, promotes the schooling of children and takes care of the construction of small houses in order to allow families to leave the unhealthy huts in the forest.


Iraq - Chaldean patriarch congratulates Muslims for the Eid al Fitr festival and takes part in a dinner for the end of Ramadan             15-6-18


On Thursday 14 June evening, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako took part in a dinner held at the Chaldean church of Mar Korkis, in Baghdad, on the occasion of Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holy month of Muslims. 
Christians, Muslims, Mandaeans and Sabeans, together with local authorities and the Ambassador of the State of Palestine in Baghdad, shared the Iftar, the evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast.


Environmental law-breaking sparks Indonesian election push           15-6-18


The environment has taken centre stage in Indonesia's regional elections in South Kalimantan after it emerged that the vast majority of mining and palm oil businesses in the province flout environmental laws.

According to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry as many as 600 out of 700 businesses break the rules. They include contributing to air pollution, mismanagement in dealing with waste, and wildlife endangerment.

Activists claim these businesses are a powerful bloc in the province and are allowed to get away with malpractices by doing deals with local politicians, such as funding their election campaigns. Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, director of the Franciscan Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation said palm oil and mining corporations, control the whole Kalimantan region."They are environmental predators," he said. "In the upcoming election society must vote wisely. People shouldn't vote for candidates who are in the pockets of corporations or trade their vote for money."


Caritas Pakistan aims to turn down the heat              15-6-18

As Pakistan remains in the grip of a scorching heat wave, Caritas Pakistan held a walk in the southern coastal city of Karachi to stress the importance of planting more trees to tackle climate change. 65 people had died of heatstroke in the city's poor neighborhoods with 40-44C this year.

Hundreds of people, including Capuchin, Franciscan and Dominican priests and nuns and students of St. James Nursing School and St. Philip's parish, took part in a walk from Christ the King Seminary to the Civic Centre. 

Mansha Noor, executive director of Caritas Karachi said Caritas Pakistan had been planting trees to reduce the impact of the scorching summer. "We have planted around 12,000 mangroves in the last three years," he said.


Petition seeks release of underground Chinese bishop            15-6-18

A petition has been launched urging the Chinese government to release underground Coadjutor Bishop Cui Tai of Xuanhua in Hebei province.

The Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong initiated the petition for the bishop, who was taken away by authorities in mid-April and whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Since 1993, Bishop Cui has been repeatedly subject to detention and house arrest or sent to labour camps by authorities for illegally preaching or holding illegal religious assemblies. 




Myanmar - Conflict in the Kachin state: new appeal for truce             16-6-18


In different parts of the Kachin State of Myanmar, a Burmese state with a Christian majority population, the conflict between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has intensified: says a note by the "Jesuit Refugee Service", engaged in the assistance for refugees. Local Churches and non-governmental organizations launch a strong appeal for the end of hostilities and the resumption of dialogue.
JRS partners in the region continue to accompany internally displaced people in safe places, organize various activities for children, and visit newly arrived families in the camps. JRS also works to assess the most immediate needs in the areas with the highest number of displaced persons, taking into particular account educational needs.



Church negotiates temporary ceasefire in Nicaragua            16-6-18


The Nicaraguan Government and opposition agree to a ceasefire temporarily ending demonstrations and sustained street fighting which has left almost two hundred people dead.

The Church mediated this latest last gasp negotiations, which has led to a wary standoff and truce. A previous attempt had failed. 

A Truth Commission will now be formed to investigate the crisis and to come forward with proposals to re-gain everyday normality.  The Commission, plus Human rights factions of the European Unión and the United Nations, will now come to Nicaragua, as part of this latest agreement. 




Pope Francis at Angelus: the Kingdom of God grows mysteriously          17-6-18


On Sunday, Pope Francis explained the two parables about the Kingdom of God from the Gospel of the day before the recitation of the Angelus.

The Kingdom grows by its own power: Jesus uses the first parable (Mark 26-29) to compare the Kingdom of God to “the mysterious growth of a seed.” The message is that the kingdom of God has “erupted on the field of the world”, through Jesus’ preaching and action and not as a work of human labour. The Pope said that “we are called to live this period as a season of trial, of hope and in vigilant waiting for the harvest”. When times are dark, we need to trust in “God’s quiet but powerful action,” he said.

The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed: Jesus invites us to a faith that exceeds calculation and forecasts. “It is an invitation to open ourselves with greater generosity to God’s plans over our own personal … plans”.  It is up to us to be aware of those opportunities.

The Pope concluded his reflection saying placing ourselves in God’s hands, aware of “being small and weak instruments”, we can accomplish great works” and allow “his Kingdom —a kingdom of justice, peace and joy in the Spirit—to progress”.


Pope appeals at Angelus for Yemen, a reminder for World Refugee Day            17-6-18


After the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis appealed to the international community to do everything possible for troubled Yemen to bring all the parties involved to the negotiating table so that "the already tragic humanitarian situation does not get worse”.

Pope Francis then reminded everyone gathered that June 20 is World Refugee Day promoted by the United Nations in order to call attention to the anxiety and suffering lived by those who are forced to flee their homes because of “conflict and persecution”.

This year governments meet that day to adopt a global compact on refugees, the Pope said. The hope is that an accord will be adopted which will promote a migration that is safe, ordered and legal.