CATHOLIC WORLD LAST WEEK
3-9 Dec, 2018
Combat the ‘open wound’ of drug addiction, Pope tells conference participants 3-12-18
“Drug use is gravely harmful to health, human life and society,” Pope Francis told participants in the Dec. 1 international conference “Drugs and Addiction: an Obstacle to Integral Human Development”. The Pope said, “All of us are called to combat the production, processing and distribution of drugs worldwide. It is the duty and responsibility of governments courageously to undertake this fight against those who deal in death.”
Palestinian leader meets Pontiff 3-12-18
Pope Francis met on December 3 President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Their conversation, the Vatican reported, centered on prospects for re-starting the peace process in the Holy Land, and particularly for preserving the status of Jerusalem.
Pope Francis says he’s worried about homosexuality in the priesthood 3-12-18
Pope Francis has been quoted in a soon-to-be published book as saying that having gays in the clergy “is something that worries me” and remarking that some societies are considering homosexuality a “fashionable” lifestyle.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera’s website Saturday ran excerpts of the book in the form of a book-length interview that the Pope gave about religious vocations. The Pope was quoted as describing homosexuality within the walls of seminaries, convents and other religious places where clergy live as “a very serious question.” “In our societies, it even seems homosexuality is fashionable. And this mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the Church,” Francis was quoted as telling his interviewer, a Spanish-born missionary priest, Fernando Prado.
The book, based on four hours of conversations, will be published in 10 languages. Its Spanish title is “La Fuerza de la vocacion,” (“The Strength of Vocation”).
Pope Francis reiterated past Vatican pronouncements about the attention that must be given to selecting men for admission to seminaries, saying “we must very much take care of human and sentimental maturity” when training future priests.
Chicago archdiocese could close 100 churches in massive reconfiguration 3-12-18
The Archdiocese of Chicago, USA, will close scores of parish churches in a major consolidation process. The “Renew the Church” initiative could result in the closing of one-third of the 351 parishes in the archdiocese. The program is a response to shortages in both funding and clergy. The archdiocese expects to have about 240 priests available for pastoral duty in 2030—as against over 750 listed in 2015.
Bishop, other Christians blocked from voting in Indian state 3-12-18
Hundreds of Christians in Madhya Pradesh were rejected at the polls for state assembly last November 28.
Among the voters who were prevented from voting, was also Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. He said, "I went to the polls. After waiting 45 minutes outside the seat, I was denied the right to vote, even though I showed my electoral card. I do not know if my name was deliberately deleted from the lists, but then I learned that even the names so many other members of minorities did not appear on the lists. I will report to the Electoral Commission ".
Christians are thinking of presenting an application for the opening of an official investigation into the affair. The same thing happened in other polling booths for many belonging to the minorities (Christians and Muslims).
The Christian leaders suspect the direct involvement of the Hindu nationalist party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) that has governed the state for 15 years, to avoid an electoral advancement of the rival Congress Party, which Christians usually prefer to vote.
Pope reminds Jesuit students to accompany the word with ministry of consolation 3-12-18
Pope Francis had plenty of advice of Jesuit students on December 3, 2018, including a reminder to join the mission to preach the word of God with the “ministry of consolation.”
His remarks came as he received the Community of the International College of Gesu of Rome, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the College.
“Passion and discipline in studies contribute to this mission,” Pope Francis said. “And it will always be good to accompany the ministry of the Word with the ministry of consolation. There you touch the flesh that the Word has assumed: by caressing the suffering members of Christ, you increase your familiarity with the incarnate Word. He asked them to imitate Jesus, “Who emptied Himself, Who annihilated Himself and obeyed unto death; the discussion that leads you up to the moment of asking with insistence calumnies, persecutions, humiliations.”
Audience with the “Rondine-Cittadella della Pace” Association 3-12.18
The Holy Father Francis received in audience the members of the “Rondine-Cittadella della Pace” (“Swallows-Citadel of Peace” Association) on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of its activity.
The Pope appreciated their work for peace. He pointed out that their petition to the United Nations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asking Palestinian and Israeli governments to reopen the dialogue to create peace, to reopen the future, to transfer the money spent on weapons to education to form leaders of peace. He reminded them how in his message for World Day of Peace (1 Jan.2019) he precisely mentions this. He encouraged them in their continued efforts to establish world peace and brotherhood.
Vatican Secretary of State, at UN climate conference, sees ‘urgent need for swift action’ 3-12-18
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, was leading the Holy See’s delegation to the 24th UN Climate Change Conference which began on December 2 in Katowice, Poland.
“The scientific data at our disposal clearly show the urgent need for swift action, within a context of ethics, equity, and social justice,” said Cardinal Parolin on 3 December.
Diplomats at Vatican back nuns in fight against human trafficking 3-12-18
Ambassadors to the Holy See were united for the cause of fighting against human trafficking- a priority for Pope Francis.
Ambassadors to the Holy See of Burkina Faso, South Africa, Croatia, Hungary, the United States, Georgia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Australia were just a few who attended the Dec. 3 panel outlining the activities of the “Talitha Kum International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons.”
Organized by the embassies of Ireland and the United Kingdom and hosted by the International Union of Superiors General, the event was focused on the work the sisters do in Africa. The ambassadors very much appreciated the work done by nuns in fighting human trafficking and assured them of full support from their governments
Asia - Church in Asia reflects on Confucian-Christian Dialogue and Mission 3-12-18
Exploring how Confucianism sheds light on the comprehension of the Church and her evangelising mission, particularly in Asia: this is the purpose of a gathering of scholars of Confucianism from 3 - 8 December 2018 at the Rome based CIAM, International Centre for Mission Animation. The scholars, all Christian with Confucian roots come from South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. The sessions of Confucian-Christian dialogue take as a departure-point elements emerging from recent documents issued by Pope Francis such as Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si' and "Amoris Laetitia".
The dialogue dwells on questions of hermeneutics, biblical, liturgical, ethical, social and education also from the Confucianism point of view in comparison with the Christian approach and vision.
Honduras - Central American Bishops reflect on youth, migrants and environment; and express solidarity with Nicaragua 3-12-18
Young people in keeping with the recent Synod of Bishops and the imminent World Youth Day to be celebrated in Panama in the coming January, were the focus of the annual assembly of the Bishops of Central America SEDAC held this year at Valle de Ángeles, in Honduras, 26 to 30 November. The final message mentions other issues debated during the assembly: solidarity for the Bishops of Nicaragua, emigration, environment. This annual event held for the past 75 years in a different country, is an opportunity for the Bishops of the countries of Central America, to share pastoral experience in the framework of the local situations.
Bishop appointments in India 3-12-18
Pope Francis appointed on 2 December 2018 Coadjutor of the diocese of Dibrugarh, Fr Albert Hemrom (b. 1970) of the clergy of Dibrugarh, Judicial Vicar of the See and Rector of Dibrugarh St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary.
He obtained a Licence on Canon Law at St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute, in Bangalore, and a Doctorate at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
The Pope appointed on 3 Dec. Archbishop of Nagpur (India), Bishop Elias Joseph Gonsalves, (b.1961) until now Bishop of Amravati.
Pakistani cleric faces life term over Asia Bibi protests 3-12-18
Pakistan has charged a firebrand cleric with sedition and terrorism for staging violent protests after Catholic death row inmate Asia Bibi was recently acquitted of blasphemy.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the hard-line group Tehreek-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), took to the streets shortly after Pakistan's highest court ordered Bibi's release in a landmark judgment on Oct. 30.
The demonstrators paralyzed the country for three days, forcing the government to strike a written agreement.
But three weeks later, Rizvi and hundreds of TLP leaders were taken into custody on Nov. 24 in an unannounced crackdown. "Legal action has been initiated against Khadim Hussain Rizvi and other top leaders of the TLP under anti-terrorism and sedition laws," Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan's information and broadcasting minister, said at a press conference in Lahore on Dec. 1. "Overall, 2,899 people have been taken into protective custody from across Punjab, 139 persons from Sindh and 126 have been arrested in Islamabad," he said. If convicted, the suspects could be sentenced to life in prison under sedition and terrorism charges, he added.
Vatican unveils website for extraordinary missionary month 4-12-18
The extraordinary missionary month (October 2019) marks the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s apostolic letter Maxime Illud. The month’s theme is “Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on a mission in the world.” For this occasion, the Vatican has unveiled a website. The website, along with other information about the month, was publicized at a recent Vatican press conference.
Italian birth, marriage rates in steep decline 4-12-18
Italy’s birth rate dropped sharply in 2017, and will fall again this year, according to the latest official statistics. The country’s fertility rate is now 1.32 per woman—far below the “replacement level” of 2.1.
The number of marriages dropped even more dramatically, with overall marriages down 6% and the rate of church marriages plummeting more than 10% in the last year.
Archbishop in Benin suspends prayer group that disrupted Mass 4-12-18
Archbishop Roger Houngbedji of Cotonou, Benin, has ordered a group called the City of the Immaculate Awajijè kèdè to stop holding prayer meetings for six months, after the group reportedly disrupted a Mass and accused priests of “occult practices.” The group’s members claimed direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
The archbishop has ordered that group leaders to attend a basic course in theology and pastoral care before taking up their ministry.
Lithuania: Bishops’ Message for Advent, “resist that individualism which isolates us from others” 4-12-18
“We must resist that individualism which isolates us from others and prevents us from thinking of others, from taking care of the smallest and the most marginalized”: “The 100 years that have passed in our journey of freedom have shown, time and again, that new life is only possible thanks to people’s determination to sacrifice themselves for another person and for God”. The Lithuanian Bishops wrote a letter to their faithful to mark the beginning of Advent, after the end of “the special year that the Lord has given us”: the centenary of independence, the year of the Mother of God, Patroness of Lithuania, the visit of Pope Francis on the 25thanniversary of Saint John Paul II’s visit.
Ukrainian Catholic bishops condemn Russian aggression, call for prayer and fasting 4-12-18
Condemning the aggression of Russia on Lithuania, the bishops of the Greek Catholic Church stated: “Despite these open acts of aggression against our country and its people, it should be remembered that these acts have spiritual roots—the hearts of criminals and aggressors are possessed by evil forces.” The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate) also condemned a recent Russian attack on Ukrainian naval ships.
Pope Francis offers prayers, condolences to President Bush’s family 4-12-18
“Saddened to learn of the death of former President George H. W. Bush, His Holiness Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all the Bush family,” the Vatican’s Secretary of State said in a telegram. The US bishops also issued a statement following the 41st president’s death.
Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand ask for help 4-12-18
Death, disease, starvation, and continuous living in hiding from immigration authorities to escape permanent imprisonment in stinking dungeons – this is what life has become for many stateless Pakistani Christians stranded in Thailand for years now.
Several heroic Thai locals have come forward to help sustain these starving asylum seekers, though the Pakistanis are still hoping for support from other Christians around the world, who they feel have abandoned them in their agony and despair.
The Pakistani Christians living in Thailand say that not even 5 per cent of the entire number of applications to the UNHCR were approved for refugee status. Because of the crackdown, many of the Christians have moved from Bangkok to remote areas and living hidden lives.
Pope Francis visits the Vatican Apostolic Library 4-12-18
Pope Francis paid a surprise visit on 4 Dec. to the Vatican Apostolic Library.
The Pope was accompanied by Archbishop José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and Librarian of the Vatican Library, and by the Prefect of the Library, Monsignor Cesare Pasini.
Egypt’s government grants legal recognition to 168 Christian church buildings 4-12-18
The regularisation of more than a hundred new churches and Christian places of worship "is a positive step" and confirms that the government intends to "put into practice" what is in the “law on irregular places of worship approved a year and a half ago," said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, who spoke to AsiaNews about 168 churches and other Christian places of worship recently approved by a ministerial committee.
Chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly (who is also Housing and Urban Utilities minister), the committee "legalised" 151 churches with another 17 set to follow.
Niger - Bishop of Niamey: “Fr Maccalli is alive and well”; we continue to pray for his release
“Bishop Djalwana Laurent Lompo of the diocese of Niamey, affirms that Fr. Pier Luigi Maccali, SMA missionary kidnapped on 17 September is alive and well. For security reasons he could not reveal the elements on which the news is based, says Fr. Désiré Salako, of Beninois nationality, the District Superior of the Benin-Niger African Mission Society for (SMA), to which Fr Maccali (commonly called Gigi) belongs.
Fr. Prada, asking for prayers for those “involved in the efforts for the release of Fr. Gigi and the other hostages,
Congo - “May our priests accompany our youth on their path”, urge the Bishops following plenary assembly 4-12-18
“Congolese youth and Christian identity” was the theme of the 47th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Congo held 26 November to 2 December in Brazzaville.
60-70% percent of Congolese youth are young, victims of the society’s evils: unemployment, delinquency, banditry, scorn, isolation and exclusion.
From the religious point of view the Bishops are concerned that “young people are disorientate by ideologies diffused by various religious and esoteric movements which manipulate, misdirect and fanaticise youth to pursue undeclared interests.
The Bishops confirm the commitment of the Catholic Church to educate young people to Christian values. In particular, they call on priests to act as leaders for the youth
Pakistan - The Church in Pakistan founded on the Eucharist 4-12-18
"We are called to break ourselves like bread for others, imitating Christ in the Eucharist. The Year of the Eucharist has strengthened our faith and we will gather the fruits in the years to come, when our faithful share testimony of the miracles which have happened in their lives ": said Bishop. Benny Travas of Multan and President of the Pakistani Bishops’ Commission for the Liturgy reviewing the Year of the Eucharist for the Catholic Church in Pakistan which has just closed.
He said: "The Year of the Eucharist motivated all Christians in Pakistan to live a more profound encounter in order to become one with Christ. This encounter with Christ comes about in the Sunday Mass" and he encouraged Eucharistic Adoration.
Cardinal Tagle visits Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh 4-12-18
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, the global federation of the Catholic charity, visited a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh and called on the international community to continue to help the beleaguered and displaced Muslim minority.
Cardinal Tagle, 61, the archbishop of Manila, kicked off his two-day visit to Bangladesh on Dec. 3 by visiting refugee families, aid workers including Caritas staff and government officials in Cox's Bazar district.
Cox's Bazar in southeast Bangladesh accommodates more than one million Rohingya Muslims, most of whom fled deadly persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017.
Cardinal Tagle said he appreciated Caritas' support for the refugees. Yet, “I wonder if this is a permanent of state of life for them or if this is temporary," he said.
Vietnamese priests protest construction on church land 4-12-18
Priests from Hanoi Archdiocese have stepped up their protest against construction of a state-run school on church property in Vietnam's capital.
On Dec. 3, 17 priests including Father Alfonse Pham Hung, head of the archdiocese's office, and Father Bruno Pham Ba Que, head of Caritas in the archdiocese, visited the headquarters of the People's Committee of Hoan Kiem district. The priests wanted to discuss issues relating to the district's construction of Trang An Elementary School on church-owned land opposite the main gate of the Archbishop's House.
Father Hung said local Catholics are concerned that the archdiocese's school buildings were demolished and a new school has been under construction. Hanoi Archbishop Cardinal Peter Nguyen Van Nhon’s petition was ignored.
Catholic nuns deny conversion claims in India 4-12-18
A court in India's Jharkhand state has ordered police to book four Catholic nuns on charges of attempting to convert a woman to Christianity, but the nuns' superior says the case is an act of revenge.
The district court in state capital Ranchi directed police to file charges against the principal and three other nuns associated with the city's Carmel School after teacher Nalini Nayak complained that she was dismissed for her refusal to become a Christian. Officials of the Apostolic Carmel congregation, which runs the school, said Nayak's complaint came after she was terminated because of her misconduct despite repeated warnings.
The complaint to the court was "an act of revenge," Sister Doris D'Souza, regional superior of the congregation, told ucanews.com on Dec. 4. "It is a completely false case to harass us and tarnish the image of the 50-year-old school." The nun said Nayak was dismissed following "a series of complaints from students and parents for misconduct such as corporal punishment and levelling derogatory remarks against students among other things." Sister D'Souza said CCTV footage of several violations is available. She said two of the nuns named in the dismissed teacher’s complaint are aged over 80 and are not involved in school activities.
Cosmic farming fails to attract Catholics in Goa 4-12-18
The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has advised farmers to chant ancient Hindu texts to obtain a bumper harvest, but Catholics in the former Portuguese colony of Goa in India are not convinced.
Goa's population of 1.8 million is about 66 percent Hindu and the 25 percent Christian component of the state is overwhelmingly Catholic.
The government is promoting what it calls 'cosmic farming.' This involves farmers chanting mantras to improve their yield, an attempt to tap cosmic energy through the so-called ‘third eye’ similar to the Hindu god Shiva. The energy could purportedly then be used to ward off negative forces such as pests and weeds as well as to improve the food value of crops.
Launching a pilot project Nov. 20, state agriculture minister Vijay Sardesai said he was determined to explore inexpensive but effective ways of increasing production.
Pope at Audience: During Advent, ask Jesus to teach us to pray
After concluding his reflections on the Ten Commandments at last week’s General Audience, Pope Francis on Wednesday 5 Dec. launched a new series of catechesis, which will focus on the “Our Father.” He talked of how Jesus teaches us to pray. Here’s what he said.
This week we begin a new series of catechesis devoted to the Lord’s Prayer. The “Our Father” is rooted in Jesus’ own life of prayer. From the first day of his public ministry to the night before he died, Jesus always took time to withdraw from the pressing demands of his mission and to pray in silence. He took part in the public liturgical prayer of his people, yet he also prayed alone and with such mysterious intensity that his disciples, inspired by his example, begged him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1). Jesus responded to their request by giving them, and us, the words of the “Our Father”. In teaching us this prayer, he draws us into his own intimate relationship with the Father. Although prayer rises up naturally in human hearts, we can all learn how to pray more fruitfully. As the parable of the Pharisee and the publican shows us, the prayer most pleasing to God arises from a humble and loving heart. In these coming weeks, as we reflect on the prayer of Jesus, may each of us, personally, echo the plea of the disciples and ask, with great trust: “Lord, teach me to pray”!
Archbishop Auza Praises New Draft of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration 5-12-18
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, on June 4, 2018, praised the new draft of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration for noting the need for the international community and national governments to cooperate and partner with faith-based organizations (FBOs) whose work is already essential in the care for those on the move and will be fundamental to the implementation of the GCM.
His words came in opening remarks at a conference at UN Headquarters entitled, “The Protection and Integration of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations: The Case of Faith-Based Organizations.”
Archbishop Auza Stresses Needs of Children and Families 5-12-18
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, on June 4, 2018, stressed the importance of person-centered policies and helping children and families.
His remarks came in an address during the Opening Session of the Fifth Round of the Intergovernmental Negotiation on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). He expressed concern over the inclusion of references to documents that have not been negotiated and lack of consensus alongside those that have been the object of meticulous intergovernmental negotiations.
Convey the beauty of eternity, Pope writes in message to pontifical academies 5-12-18
“I hope that, both at theological level and at the level of proclamation, catechesis, and Christian formation, there may be a renewal of interest in and study of eternity, without which the dimension of the present is divested of ultimate meaning, of the capacity for renewal, of hope for the future,” Pope Francis said in a message to the participants in the 23rd Public Session of the Pontifical Academies. The session’s theme was “Eternity, the other face of life.”
Iran: ‘staggering’ number of Christians arrested – 114 in a week 5-12-18
Over 100 Christians have been arrested in Iran in the past week and nearly 150 in the past month, as part of the government’s attempt to “warn” Christians against proselytising over Christmas, according to the advocacy director of religious freedom charity Article 18. Christians in 10 cities “were asked to write down details of the history of their Christian activities and told to have no more contact with any other Christians or Christian groups,” according to the report. Police also confiscated their mobile phones.
Pope embraces man who lost family in flood 5-12-18
“Destroyed by sorrow,” Angelo Frijia asked to meet the Pope “to find the courage to continue” and to “live in faith and love toward God and neighbour.” Frijia lost his wife and two young children in October during flooding in Calabria.
The Pope fulfilled his wish on 5 Dec. and embraced the man to show his sympathy and solidarity.
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ actor meets Pope 5-12-18
Ted Neeley, 75, portrayed Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and is again portraying Christ in a theater revival. Following the meeting, he tweeted, “What an honour!!!!! ... Goosebumps!” According to the Vatican newspaper , Neeley said he grew up in a devout Christian home in which “the Gospel was my daily bread.”
Malawi - PMS meeting in view of preparations for Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 5-12-18
“As Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies you bear the burden of convincing priests, religious and laity in your local Churches to cooperate with the different mission activities promoted every year by the PMS. This requires catechesis theological, spiritual and pastoral on the Church’s missionary nature” said Fr. Joseph Kimu, Director of Radio Maria Malawi at a regional meeting of national and diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Malawi and Zambia. The regional meeting was held in Mangochi in Malawi, to discuss modalities of evangelisation and missionary cooperation in the region. The initiative is part of preparations for the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October.
Indonesian priest sets mentally ill free 5-11-18
Camillian Father Cyrelus Suparman Andi offers more humane therapy in his shackle-free homes to the mentally ill.
In March after Petrus Silvester’s (36) mother sought help from the priest, things began to change for Petrus chained for 13years. Fr Andi teaches biomedical ethics at St. Paul School of Philosophy and Theology in Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara province, has developed a reputation for helping mentally ill people,
When Petrus and some seminarians paid him a visit, he was in a sorry state dressed only in a piece of cloth. "He repeatedly begged, 'Father, Father please free me'," the priest said. A few weeks later Father Andi obliged by building a 12 square meter home for him called a "shackle-free house" equipped with a bed and toilet.
The priest and the Camillians have built 15 such houses for the mentally ill since he launched a campaign to help them in 2015. Each house costs on average US$1,380, which he gets from donors and also from the seminarians' food allowance. "It's not much, but freeing them from shackles is a service that treats mentally ill people more humanely," he said. The house gives the family and neighbourhood a sense of security, and does not alienate the patients because family members can better care for them, he said.
EU urged not to forcibly return Turkic 5-12-18
European Union member countries should not forcibly return Turkic Muslims to China without providing a full and fair individualized examination of their risk of being ill-treated there, said a leading rights organization on Dec. 3 in a letter to EU foreign and interior ministers.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement that EU governments should also expedite asylum claims of Turkic Muslims from China and investigate and address the Chinese government’s intimidation of Turkic Muslim diaspora communities.
At least 20 die in Indonesia separatist attacks 5-11-18
Indonesian authorities have confirmed on Dec.5 that 20 people were shot dead by separatists earlier this week in the country’s restive Papua province.
The workers for state-owned contractor Istaka Karya had been assigned to build a 275-kilometer road in the province as part of President Widodo's signature trans-Papua road project.
One worker reportedly spotted a pro-independence rally taking place on Dec. 1 by members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA) and decided to take a photo of it, which angered the group.
"There was a dispute after which the construction workers' camp was raided," Kamal said.
The rebel group, known as the TPNPB, is believed to be a faction of the WPNLA., which reportedly did claim responsibility for the killings.
Philippines moves closer to changing charter 5-12-18
Church groups in the Philippines are warning that the country's woes will worsen with the transition to a federal form of government.
The Association of Major Religious Superiors and the National Council of the Laity have raised concerns that the rush to federalism will "divert attention" from pressing problems in the country. In a statement, the religious superiors criticized the "shameless" lifting of limits on the terms of elected government officials.
The Lower House of Congress on Dec. 4, composed mostly of allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, moved closer to passing a draft constitution that seeks to shift to a federal form of government. The proposal calls for 15 federal states, including one for Muslims in Mindanao and another for the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras on the northern tip of the main island of Luzon.
Church leaders said the move for a constitutional change threatens human rights and civil liberties, and cements the powers of political dynasties. Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo said earlier the push for federalism is a "smokescreen" for Duterte to take total control of the country.
Church’s Immigrant respite centre in McAllen adds locations 6-12-18
More than 300 asylum-seeking immigrants have been arriving daily recently to the humanitarian respite centre in downtown McAllen, Texas, USA, a surge that has led officials to rent two additional buildings to accommodate the influx.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, in addition to its facility near the federal courthouse downtown, has rented one building on 15th Street at Sacred Heart Church near the city’s bus station, which has become an entry and exit point in the migrants’ months-long journey to America’s southwest border and beyond. Another building on Hackberry Avenue, near 2nd Street, has also been used, according to Kevin Pagan, who doubles as McAllen’s city attorney and emergency management coordinator.
Kenya - “We must not lose our moral values if we are to live in a healthy society” warn the Bishops 6-12-18
Saying that a society cannot be united if it loses its moral values the Bishops of Kenya, at the end of their plenary assembly, denounce various forms of threats to society: child abuse; child pregnancy; abortion. They express closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and all forms of violence against minors and vulnerable adults.
“The violence and evil committed against minors and vulnerable members of a society is a sign of a morally sick society. As your shepherds we shall do everything possible to implement policies on child protection and safeguarding of these vulnerable members and require all who work with minors to commit themselves to these policies”.
Another issue denounced by the Bishops is promiscuity and increased cases of pregnant school girls rise in cases involving abortions, often encouraged by the media.
At the economic e social levels, the document denounces “the suffering of farmers in our Country who, after labouring so much to produce their crops, cannot find the market for their produce. The bishops also express concern for the fact that certain politicians continue to instigate clashes and division among the different communities for electoral purposes. The Bishops want the government to provide transparency and clarity on mining.
Philippines - “In the name of God stop extrajudicial homicide”: bishop's message for Advent 6-12-18
Extrajudicial homicide is always wrong even when it means killing a criminal. This is our desperate plea at this time of Advent and Christmas: for the love of God, stop these murders! Let healing begin!” this appeal comes from Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, head of the diocese of Kalookan and Vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The bishop says that to tackle seriously the problems of drug trafficking and drug dependence the right path is not “eliminating drug addicts”, the way chosen by the anti-drug campaign launched by the President Rodrigo Duterte. It is necessary instead to consolidate rehabilitation programmes for those dependent on harmful substances. Bishop David said that “people addicted to drugs need adequate rehabilitation to overcome this dependence, it is not possible to think that the way is to eliminate these people”.
Iraq -Christian woman candidate for Ministry of Refugees boycotted by Christian MPs
There is also the name of MS Hana Emmanuel Gorgis among the names that Iraqi Premier Adel Abdul Mahdi wishes to add to the list of ministers in the government in Iraq, still not complete although seven months have passed since the elections. Hana Emmanuel, for Adel Abdul Mahdi, should be head of the ministry for emigration and refugees, charged with dealing with political and administrative issues affecting the conditions of Christian communities in Iraq. But dissent regarding the possible appointment of the Christian to head the government ministry has been expressed by MPs elected in seats reserved for Christian minority members, including the two women MPs belonging to the movement Babylon Brigade, causing political fragmentation within Iraq’s Christian communities.
Nicaragua - Priest attacked in the cathedral with sulfuric acid 6-12-18
On 5 December in the afternoon, Fr Mario Guevara, aged 59, vicar of Managua Cathedral, suffered a sulfuric acid attack when a 24-year old woman threw the acid on the priest’s face and body while he was in the cathedral hearing confessions. A report of the incident said the rector of the cathedral took Fr Mario Guevara, a diabetes patient, immediately to hospital for treatment. Despite serious burns the priest’s conditions appears stable. The woman, detained by people in the cathedral as she tried to escape, was arrested by the police.
Brazil - Year of the Laity closes and lay mission in the society and civil participation begins 6-12-18
The Year of the Laity "has been a time of grace dedicated to reflection on the mission of lay Catholics not only among and with the laity but together with the whole Church," and it will continue with more capillary and in-depth formation, to help lay people to be active players in evangelization and the construction of a society more human, just and fraternal, conscious that they are " ecclesial and social subjects". Marilza Lopes Schuina, president, National Laity Council of Brazil CNLB, syntheses in this way the Year lived by the Church in Brazil and closed with the solemnity of Christ the King.
Ms Schuina stresses the need for "more participation in pastoral and economic councils, in meetings and initiatives of an out-going Church, in which the laity have a major contribution to offer".
Protesters bang drum for Christian Dalits' rights 6-11-18
Beating their drums, some 200 socially poor Dalit people marched through the streets of Indian capital New Delhi on Dec. 4 in a novel form of protest to demand that they be given social benefits denied to them because of their Christian faith.
Participants in the "the drum, dance, demonstration" played their drums near parliament to demand that the government withdraw a 1950 presidential order that said only Dalits of Hindu religion should be given social security benefits meant for Dalit people's advancement.
"Government comes and goes, and we get only false promises. Several protest rallies and marches in the past were useless. Now we play our drums to wake up the sleeping government," said Father A. Arputharaj, a protest organizer from Pondicherry and Cuddalore Archdiocese in Tamil Nadu.
The Indian constitution has special provisions to assist Dalit people's educational and social advancement with financial aid and reserved seats in jobs and educational institutions. But Dalit Christians and Muslims are denied these rights on grounds that their religions are caste-free.
Korean bishops light up shrine to oppose death penalty 6-12-18
A martyrs' shrine in Seoul that served as a former execution site was illuminated recently to highlight the Catholic community's opposition to the continued use of the death penalty in the country.
The Justice and Peace Commission of the South Korean Bishops' Conference spearheaded the move.
The lighting ceremony at the Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine took place on Nov. 30 and was attended by a smattering of civil and religious groups.
The slogan attached to one of the walls of the religious relic was illuminated in yellow, blue and green. It read: "Life Peace, Abolitionist Country Korea, Abolition of Death Penalty."
Scores of Korean Catholics were decapitated at the shrine, the name of which literally translates as the "Mountain of Beheading."
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Philippines' Duterte says bishops should be killed 6-12-18
Catholic bishops in the Philippines have hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte for saying they deserve to be killed, with one bishop branding him a murderous madman.
In a Dec. 5 speech at the presidential palace in capital Manila, Duterte accused bishops in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation of being useless for criticizing his administration, which came to power in June 2016. "These bishops of bishops, kill them," Duterte said. "This stupid bunch serve no purpose — all they do is criticize." In another speech later in the day, Duterte reiterated previous attacks on the Catholic Church, describing it as a hypocritical institution. "Most of the priests there are homosexuals," he said. "Almost 90 percent of you. So, do not postulate on my morality."
Several bishops reacted to what they described as the president's dangerous call for them to be killed.
"This is worrisome coming from a psychotic mind," said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, adding that such provocation should not be taken lightly. Bishop Bastes said President Duterte has become "a murderous madman." Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said anyone who asks for others to be killed was not a real leader. Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the president lost moral authority with his heartless, hateful and harmful call for the killing of bishops.
Meanwhile, an influential lay organization has called on Catholics "to stand up for God and defend our faith in Him ... [and] renew our commitment to go and fill our churches."
The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, the Council of the Laity, said "more than ever, [Catholics] are called upon to live a life worthy of our Christian vocation."
the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says that it will continue to study complaints filed against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte despite his refusal on March 17 to recognize the organization.
The ICC prosecutor maintained that the Philippines' withdrawal will only become effective in March 2019, a year after the official withdrawal, and that its probe would continue.
Myanmar Bible students relieved to escape Wa army 6-12-18
After enduring the military’s training regime with limited food for more than 60 days, four of the 21 detainees decided to run away as they feared they would be in the army for several years.
They, belonging to Baptist church, had to take food for three days and didn't know the way to a safe area until they were helped by villagers. They finally reached a Lahu Baptist church in Kengtung in eastern Shan State in late November. Now they feel relieved to escape Wa army.
Pope reorganizes government of Vatican City State 7-12-18
In an Italian-language motu proprio dated November 25 and released December 6, Pope Francis reorganized the government of the Vatican City State. “From the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, I sensed the need for a comprehensive reorganization,” the Pope wrote, adding that he has made “systematic legislative reform in light of the principles of rationalization, cost effectiveness, and simplification and pursuing criteria of functionality, transparency, normative coherence and organizational flexibility.”
Pope tells Mercedarians: live out your charism of redemptive service, ‘giving your life to save souls’ 7-12-18
On December 6, Pope Francis received members of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, which is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. He told them to live out their charism of redemptive service, ‘giving your life to save souls’ – using words from their founder. In January, the Pope wrote a message to the order.
International Observatory on the Family, launched at Vatican press conference, to focus on family poverty 7-12-18
A press conference was held to present the International Observatory on the Family, an initiative proposed by the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, in cooperation with the Catholic University of Murcia and the CISF of Milan. Other partners collaborating in the project are institutes and university faculties in a number of countries.
At a press conference, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia said, “The first three years will be devoted to the study of family poverty, understood in the dual relational/affective and economic registers.”
The website of the Observatory may be consulted at www.familymonitor.net
Russian, Vatican foreign ministers meet in Vienna 7-12-18
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2004, met Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States. The two “focused on the prospects for cooperation on the issue of bringing Christians and the Christian faith back to the Middle East, which is becoming increasingly important in the context of the Syrian settlement.”
Central Africa Republic – Alindao Massacre: Cardinal calls for International Enquiry 7-12-18
“We ask for an international enquiry into the massacre of Alindao,” says Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui. On 15 November Seleka rebels of Unity for Central African Peace group butchered at least 60 persons in Alindao, in the south-east part of Central African Republic. Most of them were taking refuge in a camp near the cathedral. Among the victims were the Vicar General Blaise Mada and Mingala Parish Priest Celestine Ngoumbango.
Pakistan – Archbishop Arshad: “The baptized are the promoters of peace and hope”
“There is an urgent need today of peace and hope in our city and the entire country. The people in their poverty are losing hope. To be a Christian in this catholic diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi means to be ambassadors of peace and hope, not only for the Church but for the entire society.” With these words, Archbishop Joseph Arshad, the local archbishop, has announced that the year 2019 will be a year of peace and hope. Jesus is our peace and our hope. He is the prince of peace. Peace and hope are the two important values of Christianity and it is our responsibility to promote peace and hope,” he said.
India - In a remote diocese of the north-east is born the largest church of Arunachal Pradesh state 7-2-18
In a small village in Changlang district in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, in north-east India the largest church of the state was blessed and inaugurated. In the village of Neotan, at Myanmar border, in the diocese of Miao, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, presided over the solemn Mass and Benediction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus church’s inauguration on 5 December. Among the concelebrants were the local Bishop George Palliparambil and other bishops attended by about 2000 faithful, all accommodated inside the spacious church. The people belong to Mongol race and are spread along the border of the state, entry to which was prohibited till about 20 years ago.
Lebanon – Maronite bishops: Syrian refugees must repatriate without waiting for a political solution 7-12-18
“Lebanon cannot bear anymore the burden of Syrian refugees” and hence we ought not to wait for the political solution to the Syrian problem and therefore it is necessary that the crowds go back to their homes” – this message was underlined once again by the Maronite bishops on their monthly meeting on 6 December at the Patriarchal seat of Bkerke. In the judgement of Maronite bishops, the process of repatriation of the Syrian refugees must start without waiting anymore for a political solution to a conflict which afflicts Syria, the bishops said.
In fact, Lebanon’s external affairs minister met the secretary of foreign affairs of the Vatican, Archbishop Richard Gallagher on 30November to give a clear picture of the situation and Lebanon’s inability to support Syrian refugees anymore.
Venezuela - Helping refugees and fighting xenophobia: the mission of the Jesuits 7-12-18
Material help, even cultural struggle against the growing xenophobia – these are the lines of projects which Jesuits of Latin America and the Caribbean with the support of north-American and European brothers will engage in, in order to help those who flee Venezuela. The country has reached the high point of crisis. It has been the victim of such wrong political leadership and patronage that nation’s economy has crumbled, price of petroleum – the principal source of the nation’s income - has tumbled and entrepreneurs are incapacitated, financial system has collapsed. The inflation in one year has touched 1200 percent! All essential goods, including water, are scarce.
People are fleeing the country – one per every twenty – to other countries like Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Ecuador. In this sad situation, the Jesuits have devised a plan to help the refugees at the Venezuelan, Colombian and Brazilian borders to help with essentials like food, tools, transport and even legal assistance with immigration, emergency health measures, psychological counselling particularly to pregnant women and medical help to unvaccinated children and people with chronic diseases.
Mexico – Foundation of San Felipe of Jesús: preventing street children falling prey to mafia and exploiters 7-12-18
The present director of “Fondazione San Felipe de Jesús” (FSFJ), the San Felipe de Jesus foundation has reorganised the former “Providence Homes” the brain child of Spanish Fr Chinchachoma into places where street children, identified and brought to the centre, will be accommodated, given food, bathing water and other accessories, primary education given and a skill imparted so that escaping the traps laid by mafia and exploiters, they become ready to launch a dignified life of their own.
Fr Francisco Crisanto, a diocesan priest, continues this work with renewed vigour and the kids that come here leave the place with confidence and determination to face life on their own.
Hate finds a home in Indian state polls 7-12-18
Hindu groups in India intensified their anti–Muslim campaigns for elections being held in two key Indian states on Dec. 7.
The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tasked one of its senior leaders, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, to seek votes for the party in Rajasthan, bordering Pakistan, and Telangana state. Yogi, a Hindu priest turned politician, is known for his anti-Muslim statements. He has been issuing veiled threats to Muslims during the campaign, making Muslim leaders and rights groups apprehensive about a possible outbreak of sectarian tension in the country.
In his own state of Uttar Pradesh, two people including a policeman were slain on Dec. 3 when a mob attacked a police station over the alleged slaughter of cow, a revered animal for many Hindus.
However, during his campaign in Rajasthan, Adityanath used a number of religious statements to galvanize Hindu voters. In an apparent attempt to broaden the scope of his appeal and appeal to even the socially downtrodden, he termed the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman "a Dalit," (those in bottom rung of Indian society) based on the logic that he lived in woods. Adityanath told voters to Hinduize city names – those named centuries ago after Muslim rulers.
Timor-Leste nun bemoans lack of effort in HIV fight 7-12-18
A Holy Spirit nun has accused the government and church in Timor-Leste of dragging their feet in tackling the spread of HIV/AIDS and called on them to take a more proactive approach in dealing with a rapidly growing problem. The claim brought a swift denial from the government.
According to Sister Prisca dos Santos, who works with people living with HIV, a sharp increase in the number of cases over the last few years has seen government and church officials bury their heads in the sand.
Despite having a low prevalence rate — less than one percent of the adult population — the number of infections in the predominantly Catholic nation has risen sharply over the past few years, according to Ministry of Health figures.
Dos Santos, who runs Dili Rest Home, a transient house for HIV/AIDS patients, said "The increase in cases and a basic lack of knowledge within society about the disease are clear indicators that not much is being done," she said on the sidelines of an event staged this week to mark World AIDS Day, which was on Dec. 1.
Pope to Mary in Piazza di Spagna: I come to pay you homage 8-12-18
Pope Francis visited the Piazza di Spagna in Rome on 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday for the Pope's annual act of veneration of the image of Mary Immaculate.
Pope Francis paid homage to Our Lady both in the Basilica of St Mary Major and before the image of Mary Immaculate in Piazza di Spagna. He addressed Mary saying: “On your feast day, so dear to all Christian people, I come to pay homage to you in the heart of Rome. He prayed to her for everybody in the city of Rome, particularly the sick and all those who, because of their different situations, find it difficult to keep going.
Pope at Angelus: ‘Here I am is the greatest praise we can give to God' 8-12-18
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful.
Saying “Here I am” with Mary is the greatest praise we can give to God. Pope Francis focused on these words of Mary before reciting the Angelus that being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. “Here I am” is the opposite of Adam’s “I hid myself.” “Let it be done to be according to your word” is what Mary said putting her complete trust in God. Although she did not know what to expect, she believed that “everything was going to be okay”, he said. Therefore, Mary teaches us not to live “dependent on problems…but trusting God and entrusting ourselves each day to Him,” the Pope said.
Pope announces 119 Blessed in Algeria 8-12-18
After reciting the Angelus Pope Francis announced that 19 martyrs were beatified in Algeria that morning in the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Oran, Algeria, Bishop Pierre Claverie and 18 men and women religious, killed in hatred of the faith.” He called them “martyrs of our time” and “faithful proclaimers of the Gospel, and heroic witnesses of Christian love”. Pope Francis said their “courageous witness is a source of hope” for Catholics in Algeria, “a seed for dialogue”.
Pope at Sunday Angelus: conversion is the way to wait for the Lord 9-12-18
Pope Francis drew inspiration for his Angelus reflection from St John the Baptizer as presented in the Gospel of Luke on the Second Sunday of Advent. The Baptizer, the Pope said, teaches us that conversion is the way to wait for the Lord’s coming.
Luke understands that John the Baptizer, the ‘guide’ for our conversion journey, was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of paths being made straight, valleys filled in and mountains being brought low.
Pope Francis explained that the Baptizer’s call is essentially the awareness of “the need of conversion”. It is the valley of coldness and indifference that we need to fill in by “opening ourselves to others” like Jesus did, being attentive to our neighbour’s needs. It is the mountain of “pride and haughtiness” that needs to be brought low. This is done, the Pope said, through “concrete gestures of reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, asking forgiveness for our faults”. Conversion is only complete, he said, with the “humble recognition of our errors, infidelities, and failures”.
The believer lives with Jesus at the centre of their lives, Pope Francis continued. With “His word of light, love and consolation” we who are Jesus’ disciples today “are called to be his humble and courageous witnesses to rekindle hope, to make it understood that, notwithstanding everything, the kingdom of God continues to be built day by day by the power of the Holy Spirit”.