Catholic News Last Week - CBCI Summary

Pope’s focus on human rights, migration, ecology in ‘State of the World’ address           8-1-18
Pope Francis protested against “ideological colonization,” and renewed his appeals for acceptance of migrants and protection of the environment, in his January 8 address to the Vatican diplomatic corps.
The annual papal speech to the diplomatic accredited to the Holy See, always scheduled early in the new year, is seen as the Pope’s “state of the world” address.
At the very beginning, Pope Francis reminded the assembled diplomats that in its public actions “the Holy See seeks only to promote the spiritual and material well-being of the human person and to promote the common good.” Moving on to his more general theme, the Pope remarked that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the close of World War I. He praised American President Woodrow Wilson for having proposed the League of Nations, as a means of using diplomatic negotiations to prevent the outbreak of another such catastrophic conflict.

The Pope then went on to say that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, eventually ratified by the United Nations, has been a landmark contribution to the cause of world peace. However, he regretted the lapses in accepting and putting Rights into practice “to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable.” In particular, he underlined the violation of the Right to Life, particularly by warfare, human trafficking and failure to provide adequate medical care for all.
In mentioning the threat of nuclear warfare, the Pope deplored the language of confrontation that, he said, has heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula; he called for talks to ease that tension. His remarks may be taken as a criticism of US policy under President Trump. He also wanted greater efforts to secure peace in Syria, Israel-Palestinian area and Jerusalem-status. He expressed his anguish about Venezuela.
The Pope also touched on conflicts and bloodshed in Africa – particularly in South Sudan, DR Congo, Nigeria and Central African Republic. He added that “rebuilding bridges is also urgent in Ukraine.”
Returning to more general themes, Pope Francis lamented that “especially in the West, the family is considered an obsolete institution.” He warned that the family is the only basis for a stable society, threatened now by forces of migration.
Pope Francis called for political leaders to recognize religious freedom, including the “freedom to change religion.” He also called for recognition of the right to employment.
Finally the Pontiff called for a worldwide effort to protect the environment, though its a life-time work.
Archbishop Diego Rafael Padró Sanchez of Cumana criticized the “Castroite Marxism” of the Venezuelan government, and said that the Catholic hierarchy would speak out “in defence of life and the rights of the people,” as he opened a meeting of the country’s episcopal conference. The archbishop spoke out against violence, but called for an “internal rebellion as a sign of moral health” in the troubled country.
INDIA - Attacks against Indian Christians during the Christmas season              8-1-18
Christian communities in India suffered at least 23 attacks for religious reasons during the Christmas period, which have instilled a feeling of fear and have hurt the faithful. Protestant Christian Pastor Prabhu Kumar said: "Never in my memory have we experienced the intolerance we are experiencing now".
Among the most serious incidents: 20 Hindu nationalist militants attacked a regularly authorized Christmas celebration in Rajasthan, beating the faithful. Another incident involved 30 Catholics singing Christmas hymns in Madhya Pradesh. And after these attacks, the president of the Indian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, said: "The trust of Indian Christians in the government is coming to an end".
Christians demand respect for the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. Hindu extremists have become more audacious in recent months: "This has been one of the most violent Christmas seasons in recent history for Christians in India", they say.
Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ("Hindu World Council"), one of the major Hindu nationalist groups, has decided to intensify its "ghar wapsi" ("Back To Home") campaign, forcibly converting Christian Dalits to Hinduism, arguing that there is an increase in forced conversions throughout India, especially by Christians.
Coptic Christians Celebrate Christmas in New Cathedral, Tight Security          8-1-18
The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, led the Christmas midnight mass in the cathedral of Egypt’s new administrative capital on 6 Jan, a service attended by President Abdel Fattah al Sisi.
The mass, on the eve of Coptic Christmas, which is celebrated on Jan. 7, was the first to be held in the newly built cathedral and took place amid tight security. Sisi was cheered by worshippers as he entered the building.
The new Egyptian capital, 45 km east of Cairo, announced in March 2015, is intended partly to reduce crowding in Cairo.
The celebrations were held days after attacks on a Coptic church and another Christian-owned shop that left more than 10 people dead.
Jakarta archdiocese declares 2018 as ‘year of unity’             8-1-18
Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta has issued his first pastoral letter of the year declaring 2018 as the “Year of Unity.”
The three-page pastoral letter was read out during Sunday Masses on Jan. 6-7 in all parishes.
“In 2018, we want to have a deep understanding of the state philosophy’s third principle — national unity — through a slogan ‘We are Diverse, We are Indonesia,” he said.
According to him, the slogan contains ideas, which should be materialized into various activities to build a new way of perceiving, thinking and acting in which others’ interests have prominence. As part of the declaration, he says his archdiocese is launching an image of Our Lady of All Ethnicities as a symbol of unity. This image has a national character: the national emblem of Garuda has Pancasila on her chest, a red and white veil on her head, and an Indonesian map on her crown.
The nation of 261 million is 87% Muslim, 7% Protestant, and 3% Catholic. Indonesia is the world’s 4th-most populous country and has more Muslims than any other nation.       
More than half of displaced Iraqis return to their homes, many of them destroyed         8-1-18
More than half of the Iraqis displaced by conflict to other parts of the country have returned to their homes, the UN migration agency said on Jan 4.
At the end of December, more than 3.2 million displaced Iraqis had gone home while 2.6 millions still lived away, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said. In December, Baghdad declared victory over ISIS after a three-year war against the extremists that caused tens of thousands more to flee. IOM communications officer Sandra Black said nearly one-third are reported to have returned to houses that have been significantly or completely damaged.
Vatican now had diplomatic ties with 183 nations               8-1-18
The Holy See now has diplomatic relations with 183 countries, the Vatican announced on January 8. An annual accounting of diplomatic affairs—released in time for the Pope’s yearly address to the Vatican diplomatic corps—showed the opening of diplomatic relations with Myanmar in 2017. The Vatican also has ties with the European Union and the Order of Malta, and representation with the Arab League
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church inaugurates ‎new diocese ‎            8-1-18
India-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (SMC) inaugurated on 7 January Sunday a new diocese that Pope Francis had announced last year to provide pastoral care to India’s SMC faithful living outside their existing dioceses.  Shamshabad Eparchy in Telengana state, became the 31st diocese of the eastern rite Church on 7 January with a Holy Mass and ceremony that included the installation of its first head, Bishop Raphael Thattil.
The event is significant because the diocese is the first Syro-Malabar diocese to provide pastoral care to India’s Syro-Malabar faithful who live outside their traditional regions. Previously, pastoral care of these Syro-Malabar faithful had been entrusted to Latin-rite bishops.
Muslim converts protest Pope’s statements on Islam         8-1-18
More than 1,700 converts from Islam to Christianity have signed an open letter to Pope Francis, protesting the Pontiff’s public statements affirming the value of the Muslim faith. “Don’t your words shed doubt on the solid basis for the choice we have made?” the converts ask.
Poland: Marches of the Three Kings Draw 1.2 Million          8-1-18
Under the motto “God is for everyone”, 1.2 million Poles in more than 660 cities and towns in Poland and abroad joined in the March of the Three Kings. This year’s event was accompanied by fundraising “Kings for the East”, the income from which will be delivered to cultural and educational institutions operating beyond the eastern border as well as in Poland for the benefit of the eastern citizens.
This March of the Three Kings was one of the largest events in the year of celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence.
Ecumenical spiritual guidebook published for German athletes at the Winter Olympics             8-1-18   
An ecumenical spiritual guidebook for the German athletes who will take part in the XXIII Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has been jointly published by the German Bishops Conference (Dbk) and by the German Evangelical Church Council (Ekd). Card. Reinhard Marx, president of Dbk, and the regional bishop, Henrich Bedford-Strohm, president of Ekd, emphasised the importance of the values of sport as a way to bring peoples together and accomplish peace.
Ethiopia - SOS Children's Villages reaffirms its commitment to children at risk           8-1-18
SOS Children's Villages of Gode Ethiopia as a secular and apolitical organization confirms its commitment and respect for the culture, religion and beliefs of the children it welcomes. This was in answer to reports that Christian children are converted by force to Islam at the Somali region of Ethiopia.
The NGO’s statement says: "There has never been any forced conversion of children of any religion in an SOS Village." Its priority, it says, has always been to save children at risk in an area close to the chaotic border with Somalia. The religious affiliation of children unknown, abandoned or without documents were welcomed by a Muslim madrasa – only to save their lives.
Central Africa - A priest engaged in peace attacked in Bangassou            8-1-18
A priest engaged in dialogue and reconciliation in the Central African Republic was attacked by unknown persons. Fr. Alain Blaise Bissialo, parish priest of the parish of Christ the King of Tokoyo and president of the Bangassou Peace and Mediation Committee, in the south-east of the Country, was attacked in his home on the evening of 4 January by unknown persons who stabbed him and then stole money and some objects including a computer. Given his condition Fr. Bissialo was transferred to a hospital in the capital Bangui to receive appropriate treatment.
In Bangassou, about 2,000 Muslims have been welcomed in the fenced area of the Cathedral defended by MINUSCA soldiers (UN Mission in Central Africa). The local Bishop, Juan José Aguirre Muños, has repeatedly asked for the transfer of these people who live in insecurity.
Vast areas of Central Africa are still in the grip of armed gangs, even after election of new President in February 2016.
Middle East - The Patriarch of Moscow: Russian intervention in Syria saved Christians from "genocide"            8-1-18
Thanks to Russia's military intervention in the Syrian conflict, the "genocide" of Christians was stopped. And now, the Russian Orthodox Church will take on the task of supporting the reconstruction of Syrian churches, but also of mosques and historical monuments. This was stated by Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, in the traditional television interview broadcast on Rossija channel 1 on Sunday 7 January, the day when Russian Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas. In the interview, the Head of the Russian Church confirmed the intention of the Patriarchate of Moscow to contribute to the humanitarian aid of Middle Eastern populations, and also to the reconstruction of "places of worship, monasteries, monuments, including Muslim monuments and historical monuments". Kirill also reread in parallel the recent Syrian events and those related to the fall of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, emphasizing their impact on the condition of local Christian communities.
Pakistan - Archbishop Pinto: "The commitment of lay Catholics is the flagship for the Church in Pakistan"               8-1-18
"The Catholic community in Pakistan is multilingual and multicultural, includes people from various tribes, ethnic groups, nations and cultures. The main challenge we face is the shortage of priests, but at the same time we appreciate lay catechists who work with great zeal to help our priests: in some dioceses priests have to travel more than 3 hours to celebrate Mass for the faithful. The pastoral ministry proceeds thanks to the fundamental help of lay catechists": says Archbishop Evarist Pinto, 84, emeritus of Karachi, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priesthood.
The Archbishop recalls that, following his motto "Go and make disciples", he worked to promote the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, strengthening the presence and action of the laity in the Church, forming and developing various commissions in order to ensure that Pakistani lay Catholics were fully integrated in the pastoral care of the Church.
Argentina - Argentine faithful will be present during the Pope's visit to Chile             8-1-18
The Argentineans will greet and show their affection to Pope Francis in Chile. Proximity encourages compatriots of the first South American Pontiff to cross the Andes cordillera and participate in the apostolic visit in Chile. In particular, as Fr Nicolás Retes, of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires, explains, "Social and ecclesial movements are organizing coaches", while many other young people  spontaneously coordinate in small groups.

Peru - 300 thousand rosaries made with commitment and hope by prisoners for the Pope's visit              8-1-18
For three months, prisoners of twelve Peruvian prisons made about 300 thousand rosaries. This initiative of the National Penitentiary Institute, in coordination with the Archdiocese of Lima, will help to cover the organizational expenses that the Church of Lima will have to support for Pope Francis’ visit, as well as allowing 650 prisoners to feel part of this great climate of joy and hope.
Father Luis Gaspar Uribe, executive director of the Pope's visit to Lima, talking to the inmates of the "Virgen de Fatima" prison, told them: "You must not be ashamed. God is not ashamed of you. Peru will see what you can do with your own hands".

"The benefits obtained through the sale of these rosaries", Father Gaspar continued, "will be shared with the prisoners who have been part of this program called 'productive prisons' ".

Indonesian activists, church attack palm plantation bill             8-1-18

The draft legislation drawn up to regulate palm oil industry, especially large firms, have come in for some heavy criticism from rights and environmental groups, as well as the Catholic Church over alleged environmental destruction and the marginalization of poor and indigenous people. It panders to large scale palm companies and fails to protect people’s rights and the environment, they say.
The bill is scheduled to be discussed in the Indonesian parliament and likely be passed into law later this year. Palm oil plantations in Indonesia cover more than 12 million hectares, of which 7 million are company owned, and the rest by the government and small farmers.
Critics of the industry say the proposed law is seriously flawed and will fail to give the protections it is supposed to provide.

US lists Pakistan for 'violations of religious freedom'         8-1-18

Days after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut American aid to Pakistan, the State Department placed the South Asian Islamic country on a Special Watch List for “severe violations of religious freedom” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
The move came three days after Trump, in his first tweet of the new year, accused Pakistan of providing a safe haven to terrorists despite receiving billions of dollars in aid over the years.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” Trump wrote.
Islamabad has rejected the US move and said it is not based on objective criteria.

Police foil Hindu students' bid to storm Catholic college               8-1-18

Hundreds of right-wing Hindu students clashed with police in central India Jan. 4 after they tried to storm a Catholic-run college to conduct a Hindu religious rite, church sources said.
Police were forced to charge about 800 students from the group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisahd (ABVP) when they tried to gain access to St. Mary’s College in Vidisha, in Madhya Pradesh state, to conduct the Aarati, a Hindu ritual prayer hailing Bharat Mata (Mother India).
“They did seek prior permission, but it was refused,” college director Father Shaju Devassy said.
Student leader Ankit Garg, said that all they wanted to do was to promote patriotism among students. 
Father Devassy said the attempt to storm the college was not about prayer or patriotism, but was a symbolic attempt to impose Hindu dominance over minorities.
US State Department names 10 ‘egregious’ religious freedom violators           4-1-18
In accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the US Secretary of State annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as “Countries of Particular Concern”. The Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern on December 22, 2017. The Secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom.
Sunday Mass attendance falls to 37% in Poland           4-1-18

Fewer than half of Sunday Mass attendees receive Holy Communion, according to the report. The Diocese of Tarnow, based in southeastern Poland, has the highest rate of Sunday Mass attendance (67%), the largest number of diocesan seminarians (175), and the largest number of priests (1,559).
These details are found in the report provided by the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics in Poland for 2016.
Pope’s video message to the faithful of Chile and Peru before his trip to those countries    9-1-18
A summary of the Pope’s video message to the faithful of Chile and Peru just days before his apostolic visit to these countries (15-22 Jan):
I am coming to you as a pilgrim of the joy of the Gospel, to share with everyone “the Lord’s peace” and “confirm them in the same hope”. Peace and hope, shared among all.
I want to share with you your joys, your sorrows, your difficulties and hopes, and tell you that you are not alone, that the Pope is with you, that the whole Church welcomes you, that the Church looks to you.
I place in the hands of the Holy Virgin, Mother of America, this Apostolic Journey.
Cardinal Pell’s accuser dies before trial date               9-1-18
One of the men accusing Cardinal George Pell of sexual misconduct has died of leukemia, before the scheduled March 5 hearing of the charges. Australian prosecutors have not yet revealed any details about the charges against the cardinal, so it is difficult to assess the impact of the death of Damian Dignan. Cardinal Pell has consistently said that the charges against him are false.
Priest attacked in Central African Republic            9-1-18
A priest known for his work of conciliating Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic was the victim of a January 4 assault and knife attack.
Father Alain Blaise Bissialo has sheltered Muslims whose lives have been threatened in the nation’s ongoing conflict. Following the attack, the priest was airlifted to the nation’s capital, and his condition has stabilized.
“The attackers stole money from a safe and the priest’s computer,” another priest told Agence France-Presse.

Seoul Archdiocese joins Korean capital's solar city project           9-1-18

Seoul Archdiocese is trying to create a more eco-friendly church community by encouraging parishes and churchgoers to use more solar energy.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Seoul mayor Park Won-soon on Dec. 27 to work together to expand solar generation. According to the MoU, Seoul Archdiocese will increase generating solar power via the roofs of its parish buildings and on church-owned land including parking lots. In addition, it will encourage parishioners to install solar generators in their homes.
Nigeria - Kidnapped religious sisters released             9-1-18
We are happy; to God be the glory", said Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, Superior General of the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Christ, announcing the release of the three sisters and three reverend sisters abducted on 13 November 2017 in the State of Edo, in southern Nigeria. "One was said to have been released on Saturday, 6 January while the others on Sunday 7. Now they are fine. They are receiving some medical check-up in a hospital", she said.
The first to be released was Veronica Ajayi, around 6 pm on Saturday 6 January. The three sisters, Sister Roseline Isiocha, Sister Aloysius Ajayi, Sister Frances Udi, were released along with two others on Sunday, January 7 at noon.
On November 13, the six religious women had been forcibly taken by some armed men who had invaded their residence in Iguoriakhi. The criminals went away with six of them in a speed boat.
The Superior General stated that no ransom was paid.
On Sunday, December 17 after the Angelus Pope Francis had launched an appeal for the release of the religious.
Central Africa - Cardinal Nzapalainga: "2017 was a year marked by violence against the people and the Church"        9-1-18
"Where are we going? What will the people of Central Africa in 2018 become?" asked Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, in his opening speech for the plenary meeting of the Bishops' Conference of Central Africa.
Taking stock of the year which has just ended, Cardinal Nzapalainga stressed that 2017 was a "unfortunate year, which saw the murder and aggression of many servants of God in Bangui, but especially in our provinces: Banguassou, Alindao, Mokoyo, etc. Churches devastated, looted or burned; faithful martyred. Last year’s toll is alarming. But we have faith in the great goodness of the Lord towards us, as Pope Francis reminded us during his stay in Bangui".
In November 2015, Pope Francis visited Bangui, where he opened the Holy Door of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The ordinary session of the Central African Episcopal Conference opened on January 8th and will end on Sunday, January 14th. At the center of the work there are issues such as security, education and health.
Pakistan - Archbishop Shaw: "It is urgent to promote peace and harmony in Pakistan"              9-1-18
"Let us light the candle of peace, together with the hope to illuminate darkness and grow in faith. Let us pray so that this year may be full of peace, tolerance and solidarity among all religions": said Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, at the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lahore, during his participation in an interfaith and inter-religious meeting organized by the National Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism, organ of the Pakistani Episcopal Conference, in collaboration with the association and study of "Wave" Catholic multimedia production, operating in the diocese of Lahore.
Archbishop Shaw, president of the Commission, in the presence of numerous Muslim and Christian religious leaders, as well as civil authorities and people from different communities, recalled that "patriotism is part of our identity as Christian citizens" and that "through inter-religious dialogue one walks on the path of coexistence…In 2018 it will be our duty to promote interfaith peace and harmony so that reconciliation prevails in Pakistan and the world. We have to educate young people to be ambassadors of peace", he noted.
Syria - Damascus, mortar shells on the Old City. The Maronite cathedral hit            9-1-18
A mortar shell hit the Bab Tuma area on Monday, January 8, in the old city of Damascus where several churches are concentrated, damaging the Maronite cathedral. The damaged church, built in 1865, is dedicated to Our Lady of the Transfiguration and to St. Anthony.
The Archeparchy of Damascus of the Maronites, led by Archbishop Samir Nassar, counted over 20,000 baptized in 2013.
The mortar shells launched against the Old City of Damascus represent yet another confirmation that the conflict in Syria is still ongoing and continues to affect even peripheral areas of the capital. While Syrian official sources report that in the early hours of Tuesday, January 9, Israel implemented an attack on Syrian territory with the use of aircraft and missiles, aimed at hitting a Syrian military base near Katifa, eastern suburb of Damascus.

India - An open letter from a Catholic priest: "Should Christians worship India as a Hindu goddess?"           9-1-18
In the wake of an attempt by about 900 youth belonging to ABVP, a student wing of Hindu Fundamentalist organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad, demanding to enter a Catholic ladies college in Sagar diocese to conduct a worship service (Puja) for India Mother Earth Goddess (Bharat Matha), a priest has raised questions: Should Indian Christians worship the goddess India and offer Hindu rites in their churches or institutions?": This is the provocative question a priest Fr. Anand Muttungal, theologian, human rights activist and communication expert in the diocese of Bhopal asks in an open letter sent to Catholic Bishops and to Indian civil authorities. 
Today, notes Fr. Muttungal, Hindu fundamentalists consider all those who do not adhere to such practices (such as Indians of other religions) as "enemies" and "anti-national".
United States - Salvadorans without protection in America, the Church will not abandon separated families             9-1-18
"The decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador is heartbreaking". El Salvador is currently not in a position to adequately handle the return of the roughly 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients. Today's decision will fragment American families, leaving over 192,000 U.S. citizen children of Salvadoran TPS recipients with uncertain futures. Families will be needlessly separated because of this decision": with these harsh words, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed its profound disagreement with the current government policy.
A statement signed by Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, says, “We renew our call to Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for long-term TPS recipients, and we stand ready to support such efforts."

Children die as cold snap hits Bangladesh              9-1-18

At least two children have died and scores have fallen sick amid a cold spell that has swept across Bangladesh, spelling misery for the poor, children, elderly and refugees.
The cold snap is likely to continue for at least a week, according to the Meteorological Department.
Hundreds of patients suffering from cold-related diseases including pneumonia and diarrhea have thronged to government and private hospitals. Daily activities including agriculture in various northern and western districts remain suspended.
“Children are most vulnerable to cold-related diseases including pneumonia and diarrhea as well as skin diseases. Additional aid and awareness are required to keep them safe from diseases and death,” Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, head of the health department at Caritas Bangladesh, said.
Caritas would distribute warm clothes and blankets to about 800 poor people in Rajshahi.

Black Nazarene devotees told not to forget Marawi         9-1-18

Do not forget those who suffer from war and disasters. This was Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s message to a sea of Black Nazarene devotees during a pre-dawn Mass in Manila on Jan. 9. The Archbishop of Manila told Catholics to remember those displaced by war in the southern Philippine city of Marawi and who suffered devastation from typhoons in the Mindanao and Visayas regions. Cardinal Tagle reminded devotees, estimated at close to 20 million this year, to look at Jesus who cares for the hungry, the thirsty, and the homeless, "to know how it is to be a real human."
Italian prelate calls on political candidates to be honest, realistic             9-1-18
A "start of honesty, realism and humility is needed from those seeking our vote" in upcoming general elections in Italy, the general secretary of the Italian bishops' conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, has said. "The Italian people are able to tell those who are full of hot air from those who instead want to get the country up and running again," Bishop Galantino added. Italy is set to hold general elections on March 4.
A community that exceeds 4 million users on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. This is the latest result of the reorganization of the social media channels of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, unified under the recently presented Vatican News logo.
After rare talks with the South, North Korea will send a delegation to the Winter Olympics             9-1-18

North Korea said during rare talks with the South on 9 January it will send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month and Seoul said it was prepared to lift some sanctions temporarily to facilitate the visit if needed.
North Korean officials at the first formal talks with South Korea in more than two years said their delegation for the Games would consist of athletes, high-ranking officials and a cheering squad.
Pope, at general audience, says that the liturgy is a true school of prayer              10-1-18
Pope Francis continued on Wednesday, 10 January, his catechesis on the Holy Eucharist during his General Audience, focusing his attention on the Gloria and the opening prayer of the Mass.
The Pope recalled the rite of reciting the Ancient hymm “Glory to God in the highest.” Echoing the song of the angelus, at our Lord’s birth, said the Holy Father, “we praise the mercy of the Father in sending his Son who takes away the sins of the world.”
Pope Francis noted that “the Opening Prayer is also called the “Collect”, because it gathers up and presents to the Triune God all our individual prayers.” The Pope went on to explain that the priest’s invitation, “Let us pray”, is followed by a moment of silence, and he urged priests “not to rush” but respect these silent moments, adding that without this silence we risk “neglecting the recollection of the soul”.
Concluding his catechesis, the Holy Father underlined that “by reflecting on these rich prayers, and uniting ourselves with the Church in lifting them up to God, we see how the liturgy becomes for each Christian a true school of prayer.”
Contraception sometimes morally required, argues member of Pontifical Academy for Life    10-1-18
A newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life has argued that there are some circumstances that “precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.” Professor Maurizio Chiodi cited the papal document Amoris Laetitia as justification for his argument. When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found,” argued Fr. Chiodi in his lecture entitled: Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016).
US bishops: papal directive does not require new translations of Mass            10-1-18

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that a recent papal directive of liturgical translations, Magnum Principium, does not require a new translation of the liturgy. The USCCB committee on divine worship observed that the papal order “is not retroactive,” and the “approved translations remain in force.”
At least 4.5 million take part in annual Black Nazarene procession in Manila          10-1-18
After 22 hours since its procession began, the Black Nazarene statue was returned to its home, Quiapo Church at Plaza Miranda, at 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday, ending the grand Traslacion this year.
As the image was pulled into the church, devotees raised their arms, chanting, “Viva Poong Hesus Nazareno!”
Police had formed a barricade along the entrance of the basilica to ensure the quick passage of the Andas, or the platform carrying the statue.

Vatican appoints commissioner to oversee troubled lay movement          10-1-18

The Vatican has announced the appointment of an apostolic commissioner to take over leadership of the Sodality of Christian Life.
Bishop Noel Antonio Londoño Buitraga of Jerico, Colombia, will become the Vatican-appointed head of the lay movement, which was founded in Peru in 1971 by Luis Fernando Figari. The appointment comes after a Vatican investigation of the movement, prompted by complaints that Figari had been guilty of sexual and psychological abuse of members.
The Vatican press office said that Pope Francis had called for careful oversight of the Sodality’s “internal regime, formation, and economic and financial management” under the new leadership.
As ceasefire nears end, Colombia’s bishops urge dialogue between government, ELN       10-1-18
On the eve of the end of the temporary bilateral ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the resumption of a new round of talks between the parties in Quito (with a reshuffled government delegation), the Colombian Bishops’ Conference (CEC) and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia issued a joint statement calling on the parties not to undo the progress made in recent months in terms of reducing violence and alleviating the plight of civilians.
The Colombian conflict, which began in 1964 and has led to the death of over 175,000 civilians, has pitted the Colombian government against leftist guerillas. FARC (the main rebel group) and the government signed a peace agreement in 2016, and ELN (the 2nd-largest rebel group) declared a ceasefire during the Pope’s September visit.
Togo - Political crisis, a missionary: "People do not feel safe"             10-1-18
"The country has been going through a serious political crisis for five months, since a coalition of 14 opposition parties, have been organizing rallies and protests almost every week against the president, heir to a family in power for 50 years. On December 27th, thousands of people took to the streets of the Togolese capital, Lomé, to demand a limit to the number of presidential mandates for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbé". Father Silvano Galli, SMA missionary (Society of African Missions), engaged in Sokodé, says. As of present law, though under revision, the President can contest the election in 2020 and 2025. Opponents are put in prison. The repressions from August 19 demonstrations have been violent especially in Sokodé, besieged by the army, in Bafilo, in Mango where the population fled to Ghana after their goods were destroyed and lost everything"
"People do not feel safe," says Fr Silvano.
Pakistan - Christians mobilize to help those injured by the attack on Quetta, the government is absent            10-1-18
An appeal not to forget the victims of the recent attack on the Methodist church of Quetta - devastated by a terrorist attack on December 17 - and a fundraising to help the affected brothers: this is the initiative launched by Catholic Archbishop Joseph Coutts, head of the community of Karachi, who invited the faithful to a commitment of solidarity. Archbishop Coutts said: "We have already sent 300,000 Pakistani rupees (2,270 euros) to the Methodist Church through the Catholic Bishop of Quetta and I wrote a letter to my parish priests to raise funds to support our brothers and sisters in this moment of suffering and necessity".
He also said: "It is not just about the number of dead, injured and the damage to the construction of the Church". There is much more to the loss: one cannot compensate mourning and pain with money, but our small contribution will be useful for those in need".
Archbishop Coutts has urged priests to launch new appeals during Sunday Mass to raise funds for those affected by the attack on Quetta, which killed 14 and injured 56. Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM of the Catholic diocese of Hyderabad has done the same.
Peru - Fr. Dario Bossi: "Mining activities weigh on the lives of indigenous communities: the Pope will not be deaf to this problem"              10-1-18
The Pope will not be deaf to the problem created by mining activities, is the hope expressed by Father Dario Bossi, Comboni missionary, director of the network "Churches and mining activities", illustrating the letter that the "Red MUQUI and Iglesias y Minería" sent to Pope Francis, on the occasion of his visit to Peru, from 18 to 21 January, to highlight the situation of violence and crime in which the communities involved in mining in the country live.
The letter explains in detail to what extent the impact of mining affects the lives of the simplest and smallest, in particular the natives, says Fr Bossi.
In the letter to the Holy Father, the expectation that the Pope will send a message, during his journey, in defense of the territories of the indigenous peoples of Peru is openly expressed.
MUQUI Peru is a network of 29 institutions of 11 regions in Peru. The Red Iglesias y Mineria, founded in 2013, brings together the Churches of Latin America, whose mission is to accompany people and communities in defending their rights and their environment.

Bishop Shao freed by Chinese authorities           10-1-18

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin has been released by Chinese authorities after being detained for seven months.
The underground bishop from Wenzhou Diocese of Zhejiang province was released on Jan. 3 and is expected to return to Wenzhou, one of China's biggest Christian citiesm soon.
A source who wanted to be unnamed said that after Bishop Shao was taken away in May 2017, officials from Wenzhou City Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs tried to force him to sign an agreement. The agreement requested the bishop to support the State Administration for Religious Affairs and the self-election and self-ordination of bishops. After a lot of pressure, Bishop Shao signed the agreement just to prove that he had read it but put a remark that he did not agree with the terms, the source said.
Now the bishop is staying in a Catholic’s home in Xining city of Qinghai province in central China, 2,500 kilometers away from Wenzhou, and will go to Beijing for a hearing check Jan. 22 before going back to Wenzhou.

Chinese priest goes missing in Zhejiang province        10-1-18

Father Lu Danhua of Lishui Diocese of China’s eastern Zhejiang province has been missing since government officials suddenly took him away just after Christmas.
He is the only priest of Lishui Diocese and his predecessor was Kenneth Roderick Turner of Scarboro Foreign Mission Society from 1948 to 1983. Wenzhou Diocese subsequently administered Lishui Diocese.
Underground church Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou who ordained Fr Lu a year ago and has served Lishui Diocese up to now and was released by authorities Jan. 3 after being detained since May 2017. A source who did not want to be named said that the reason for taking Father Lu away was not related to Bishop Shao but that he was taken to be ‘re-educated’ by authorities.

Vietnam archdiocese opens up to domestic migrants          10-1-18

A southern archdiocese in Vietnam, home to millions of domestic migrants, plans to offer basic services to help them integrate into the local church.
Some 500 migrant workers and students attended the launch of Migration Week on Jan. 7 at Don Bosco Youth Center in Ho Chi Minh City.
“You have to leave your homes to study and work in this city. It means you contribute to building the city so you become children of the local church and enjoy interests as local Catholics,” Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese and head of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, told the gathering.
Bishop Hung, head of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said the local church has a duty to receive migrants into the local church and they have rights to join parishes, attend catechism courses, hold their marriage celebrations and funerals at churches, and take part in church activities. The bishop said the city is home to 300,000 Catholic migrants.
Amoris Laetitia brings ‘paradigm change’ to Church, says Cardinal Parolin            11-1-18

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Amoris Laetitia illustrates a “paradigm change” that Pope Francis is bringing to Church teaching. In an interview with Vatican News, the Secretary of State said that the same “paradigm change” governs the Pope’s approach to reform of the Roman Curia. He spoke of “the deeper spirit which must animate every reform of the Curia, which is the fundamental dimension of Christian life—that is, conversion.”
World Watch List 2018: the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus         11-1-18
North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Pakistan top the list.
Italy - A light in the night to support the hope of migrants               11-1-18
Light a candle to support migrants in their journey of hope: this is the proposal of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters, a religious congregation that has been dealing with migrants since its foundation, on the occasion of the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees , which will be celebrated on Sunday, January 14th. "This year we invite to light a candle or a candle in front of one of the house windows, all over the world, between the 14th and 15th of January", explains Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Scalabrinians. "It is a small gesture that testifies our closeness to migrants who travel in search of hope".
"The world must become aware that migration is a human fact and managing and supporting it is a fact of humanity", she reiterated, with the hope that "perhaps this is the right moment in which single national borders are torn down".

DR Congo - Caritas to rescue flood victims in Kinshasa          11-1-18
After the violent repression of the peaceful march of Catholics on December 31, 2017, which resulted in at least seven dead and several injured, Kinshasa began the year with heavy rains that caused deadly floods. The rain that hit the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the night between 3 and 4 January and on Sunday 7, caused at least 45 deaths and the destruction of about 200 houses. As a result, thousands are displaced. Two days of national mourning were held in January 8 and 9.
The department for emergencies and social protection of Caritas carried out a survey of the various parishes. In collaboration with state services, the volunteers of the Caritas community have identified the families affected. Considering the primary needs, including food, clothing, seeds, kitchen sets, mattresses, etc., Caritas Kinshasa estimates the rescue budget is over $867,000.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) met the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso and asked him to "avoid the worst" after the violent repression of the 31st December demonstration and intervene so that elections in that country be held without fail and a successor is found for Kabila.
Iraq - The US allocates funds for the reconstruction of towns and villages in the province of Nineveh              11-1-18
The United States has decided to allocate at least 75 million dollars to support the reconstruction of villages and infrastructures of the regions freed from the control of the Islamic State, and to favour the return of refugees - mostly Christians and Yazidis - who fled from the Nineveh Plain and the city of Sinjar. This was confirmed in a conversation with, by the US diplomat Douglas Seelman, US ambassador to Iraq.

Religion-based violence escalates in Kashmir        11-1-18

Peace continues to elude the strife-torn Kashmir Valley on the India-Pakistan border, with sectarian violence escalating in the Muslim-dominated region.
Recent figures show that 450 people were killed in the Indian part of Kashmir in 2017 in an upward trend in incidents of intermittent bloodshed, curfews and killings.
Mehbooba Mufti, chief minister of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state, said the incidents – the result of a “worrisome trend” - violated people’s rights to live in peace and dignity. “It is a Kashmiri who is getting killed. Whether there is a blast, suicide attack or encounter, the lives of Kashmiris are getting destroyed and devastated. How long will such a trend continue?” he asked. In the first week of new year, 12 people were killed in Anantnag district bordering Pakistan.

Ban upheld for marriage between Bangladeshis and Rohingya           11-1-18

The Bangladesh High Court has upheld a law that bans marriage between Bangladeshi nationals and Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, triggering a mixed response from refugees, locals and rights advocates.
A High Court bench on Jan. 8 dismissed a legal challenge against the ban from a father whose son married a Rohingya woman in a Muslim ceremony last September despite the legal ban but the practice has raised fears of human trafficking. Shoaib Hossain Jewel, 26, married the 18-year-old Rohingya and ran away to evade police arrest, local media reported.
Babul Hossain defended his son’s marriage and challenged the law in the country’s top court on Dec. 31. The court rejected his petition and ordered him to pay 100,000 taka (US$1,200) for legal fees.

Chinese officials demolish yet another church: in Shanxi           11-1-18

Authorities in China demolished a large church in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province on Jan. 9, despite efforts by worshippers to halt the demolition who were then pressured to remain silent, according to witnesses.
It was the third Christian church demolition or closure in China in just over two weeks and comes amid a broader crackdown on "Western" religions by the government of authoritarian leader Xi Jinping. Muslims groups, especially in the far flung province of Xinjiang have also been targeted.
Officials surrounded the Golden Lampstand Church, while bulldozers reduced the large building to rubble, a witness told Radio Free Asia.

Rape, killing of girl, 8, shocks Pakistan         11-1-18

The murder and rape of an eight-year-old girl has sparked a national outcry in Pakistan after a picture of her lifeless body lying in a heap of garbage was shared on social media platforms on 10 January..
Zainab Ansari, a resident of Kasur district in Pakistan’s Punjab province, went missing Jan. 7 when she stepped out of her house to take Quran lessons from a neighbour. The girl’s parents were in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage.
On his return, the girl’s father, Muhammad Amin Ansari, told media that there had been absolutely no help from the police. “Our entire family and relatives were out in the streets day and night in cold weather. We also recovered CCTV footage on our own, but there was no action from the police,” Amin said. In the CCTV footage aired by news channels and widely available on social media, Zainab can be seen holding the hand of her abductor.
It was the 12th incident of child molestation in Kasur in a year, according to Zulfiqar Ahmed, a senior police officer.
Catholic volunteers help the homeless in Manila             11-1-18
In order to protect human dignity in light of the social doctrine of the Church and the values ??of the Gospel, a group of Catholic women are working in Manila to empower the homeless.
Led by Sheba Martinez, a professor of theology at Miriam College and coordinator of the project, volunteers from the Kariton Empowerment Center (KEC) are involving homeless families in livelihood programmes, and exploring the possibility of organising cooperatives.
The group takes its name from kariton, a wooden cart that the homeless push during the day to collect recyclable rubbish along the roads and which serves as a shelter at night.
According to the latest estimates, some 4,000 to 5,000 families live in covered sidewalks, under bridges and in cemeteries in Manila.
The World Council of Churches visits Protestants in China (but only official ones)       12-1-18
The Secretary General of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Pastor Olav Fykse Tveit, is visiting China from January 7 to 16. This was announced by the press office of the ecumenical body based in Geneva. No visits or meetings with unofficial Protestant Christians are included in the program, although they make up the majority of Protestants in China.
Olav Fykse Tveit is accompanied by the WCC president for Asia, Dr. Sang Chang, and the executive secretary for the interreligious dialogue program, Dr. Peniel Rajumkar. The visit, deemed "historical", aims to launch celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the WCC.
Congo: police open fire to disperse crowd after cardinal’s Mass          12-1-18

Police in Kinshasa fired tear gas canisters and warning shots to disperse the congregation after a Mass celebrated in the city’s cathedral on January 12 by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo. The Mass honored activists who were killed in clashes with police after New Year’s Eve protests against President Joseph Kabila. Cardinal Monsengwo, with other Catholic leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have opposed Kabila’s plan to continue in office despite a constitutional term limit.
New book about Pope Francis contains 14 interviews with prelates, relatives, friends            12-1-18
Deborah Castellano Lubov’s “Other Francis” features interviews with Cardinals Gerhard Müller, George Pell, Timothy Dolan, and others. The preface by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, is republished in the Zenit article.
Hundreds of churches, camps and charities protest abortion clause in Canada Summer Jobs grant application           12-1-18

Churches and religious groups across the country are struggling over what to do with a confusing clause in the Canada Summer Jobs application that seems to require them to endorse access to abortions in order to get funding.
The new “attestation” on the grant application is aimed at anti-abortion groups who have received the federal grants in the past. It requires stating that your organization’s core mandate respects “reproductive rights,” along with other human rights, and the online application can’t be submitted unless the box is checked.
But hundreds of churches, charities, day camps and other religious organizations who hire students for summer programming are upset about the attestation, saying they feel like they’re being forced to sign a statement that goes against their beliefs.
Eritrea - Clinics and schools closed: the regime prohibits Christian social activities         12-1-18
"In Eritrea, the regime has begun to persecute religious confessions and, in particular, the Catholic Church. The objective is clear: to try to prevent its influence on society: not by prohibiting worship, but social activities". This is the alarm launched by Mussie Zerai, a priest of the eparchy of Asmara, for years a chaplain of the Eritreans in Europe and active in saving migrants in danger in the Mediterranean. Public officials have decreed the closure of five Catholic clinics in various cities. The minor seminary (which served both the diocese and the religious congregations) was closed in Asmara. Also several schools of the Orthodox Church and Muslim organizations had to close their doors.
Pakistan – Bishops to govt: approve policies for the protection of children             12-1-18
"The whole nation cries for this sin. It is a sin that makes us feel ashamed. Let us try to find the courage to take all the necessary measures and to protect the lives of our children in every possible way, so that these crimes are never repeated": these are the heartfelt words of the Archbishop of Islamabad Joseph Arshad, President of the National Commission "Justice and Peace" (NCJP), which intervened to strongly condemn the rape and murder of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl, found in a landfill in Kasur. The episode caused anger and pain throughout the country. The Commission firmly calls for the government of Punjab to take severe action against perpetrators and launch serious political measures to protect children.

Indian priest, nun get jail term for defying court order          12-1-18

A court in central India has sentenced a Catholic priest and a nun to two months each in jail for defying a court order to reinstate two students their school expelled two years ago.
The district court in Ujjain town of Madhya Pradesh state also asked Father Sebastian Mullamangalam, the then manager of St. Paul Convent School, and school principal Sister Archana to pay 1 million rupees (US$16,000) compensation to the students. The court’s Jan. 6 order, made public three days later, also requires them to pay legal compensation to the state of US$3,200.
The court, however, has kept its order in abeyance for a month to help the convicts appeal against the order in a higher court, failing which they will have to accept the sentence.
Church officials have removed the accused priest and nun from the school and appointed new officials but maintained they committed no offence. The two will appeal against the sentence.
The school is accused of illegally terminating three students at the end of academic year 2015, with a remark in their transfer certificate that their parents’ “behavior was not good.”

Fury over Myanmar military's Rohingya mass killing          12-1-18

The Myanmar military’s admission of a mass killing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State has sparked fury and demands for a proper probe and justice from refugees, rights activists and Church officials in Bangladesh.
On Jan. 10, the military issued a statement admitting for the very first time that its soldiers and Buddhist villagers murdered 10 captured Muslim “terrorists” at Inn Din village in September last year during a counter-insurgency operation. "Villagers and members of the security forces have confessed that they committed murder,” the military said.
Myanmar’s military launched a brutal “clearance operation” against minority Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine following Aug. 25 attacks on 30 security checkpoints and an army base by Rohingya militants. The crackdown saw hundreds of civilian Rohingya killed, dozens of women raped and hundreds of Rohingya villages burned by the military and extremist Buddhists.
The violence forced more 650,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh for safety

Alleged arson attacker of Bangladeshi Santals arrested          12-1-18

Police in northern Bangladesh have arrested one of the alleged masterminds of arson attacks on the indigenous Santal community in 2016 that left at least three dead, dozens hurt and hundreds of houses burned down in Gaibandha district.
Ruhul Amin, 33, was arrested late on Jan. 9 in the Gobindaganj area of the district. Amin, a Muslim and labor leader of the state-run Mahimaganj Sugar Mill, is accused of being one of the masterminds of the violent attacks on Nov. 6-7, 2016 on Santals, nine policemen and some workers. About 7,000 Santals, mostly Catholics, lost their houses. Community still doubts justice will be served after 2016 violence that forced them from their two villages.
RD Congo – Cardinal: Government has unleashed defamation against the Church          13-1-18
The defamation against the Catholic Church and its hierarchy orchestrated by the powers that be of the Republic is reinforced by a campaign of intoxication and disinformation, says Fr Donatien Nshole, the secretary general of the Congolese National Bishops’ Conference (CENCO).
Speaking at a press conference he said this campaign is particularly directed against Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the archbishop of Kinshasa, who is accused of trying to destabilize the nation and grab power.
Central African Republic -  Camillians: New medical assistant services in the the poorest nation              13-1-18
New health services will be in place in the course of 2018; new infant, maternity and operation centres and a 12-month infirmarian course will be started. With our NGO plans, the hospital of St John Paul will be developed and upgraded, the beginnings of which have already been done by Carmelite Sisters of Torino a Bassemptele. This is said by Fr Efisio Locci, MI, the president of the Camillian ONG “Health and Development” which has different programmes in the Central African Republic from 2012.
Pope celebrates Mass for Migrants        14-1-18
Pope celebrated a special mass for all migrants in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday 14 January, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Over 70 countries were present in the person of their Ambassador to the Vatican. And some 460 priests from all over the world concelebrated with the Holy Father.   
Pope Francis said he wanted to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a Mass of invitation and welcome. “It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know, and to acknowledge him or her” Jesus replies, “Come and see.” This reply of Jesus “is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know, and to acknowledge him or her,”the Pope said.  But it is more, it is an invitation “to protect, promote and integrate”.
Angelus Message            14-1-17
At the Sunday Angelus prayer following the Mass for Migrants and Refugees, the Pope said, Jesus’ invitation to John the Baptist’s disciples to come and see is a reminder of our call to follow Jesus in everyday life.
The Pope said the Sacraments, prayer, and meditation on the Word of God are the keys to living well that life of faith. He said, “Every stranger who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the foreigner who has been accepted or rejected in every age.”
The Holy Father invited the faithful to pray for the success of his pastoral visit to Chile and Peru, due to start on 15-1-17 Monday.