23-29 Aug 2021

23-8-21

Recover central role of the Eucharistic liturgy, Pope urges

(23-8-21) Pope Francis called for new efforts to revitalize Sunday Masses and “recover their centrality in the faith and spirituality of believers,” in a message to participants in the 71st National Liturgical Week, held this year in Cremona, Italy. The Pontiff said that the pandemic lockdown had aggravated difficulties with the liturgy, which now “finds itself unbalanced in terms of generational presence, cultural inhomogeneity, and the difficulty of finding a harmonious integration in parish life.”

Spanish bishop resigns: under pressure from gay groups

(23-8-21) Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Xavier Novell Goma of Solsona, Spain. The bishop had been denounced by city officials in two towns of his diocese, and pronounced unwelcome in two others, because of his public stand against homosexuality. He later apologized for a suggestion that homosexuality was caused by absent fathers, but said he would “continue to fearlessly present the Christian view.” Bishop Novell is only 52 years old; he had been appointed to head the Solsona diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Patriarch Bartholomew visits Kiev despite Moscow opposition

(23-8-21) Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the acknowledged ‘first among equals’ of the world’s Orthodox prelates, traveled to Ukraine this past weekend, to join in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the country’s independence. The Ecumenical Patriarch was welcomed by government leaders, but his visit was opposed by the Moscow patriarchate, with prayer protests. (The Moscow patriarchate has bitterly opposed Constantinople’s recognition of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.) Most of the Patriarch’s public events in Kiev took place without prior public announcements. But the visit concluded without confrontations.

Hong Kong activists, in plea bargain, point to Jimmy Lai

(23-8-21) In a plea-bargain deal with Chinese prosecutors, two Hong Kong democracy activists have said that Jimmy Lai, the imprisoned Catholic publisher, had masterminded a propaganda campaign to encourage US sanctions against China. Their testimony bolsters the government’s case against Lai, who is charged with conspiracy against the goverment under Hong Kong’s strict new national-security law.

Indicted former Vatican finance watchdog resigns from Swiss bank role

(23-8-21) René Brülhart, the former president of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), has resigned from the board of a Swiss Bank for “personal reasons,” the Pillar news site reports. Brülhart, a career banker who presided over the Vatican agency assigned to monitor financial transactions, has been charged by Vatican prosecutors with abusing his office. His trial before a Vatican tribunal is now in its early stages. Earlier this year the Pillar site revealed that while at the AIF, Brülhart also was paid as a consultant by the Vatican Secretariat of State, to provide advice on that office’s investments—despite the apparent conflict between those roles.

Caritas Pakistan on alert for Afghan refugees

(23-8-21) “The Taliban are not letting anyone out,” and neighboring Pakistan “has been fencing itself off from Afghanistan,” BBC reported. Nonetheless, the Church in Pakistan is preparing to assist refugees.
“Refugee crises are often protracted and require strategies that reflect both short-term needs — water, first aid, immunization — and mid-to-long term challenges such as mental health, trauma, chronic diseases and education,” Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan. “Staff have been alerted to avoid any controversial social media posts about the Taliban.”

Papal prayers, greetings for Waldensian synod

(23-8-21) The Waldenses departed from the Church’s teaching in the 12th century and later became a Protestant community.
“May all Christians strive to continue generously along the path of full communion, witnessing to the joy of the Gospel and promoting values of justice, peace, and solidarity, with special attention to those who are most disadvantaged or discarded,” Pope Francis prayed.

Vandalism at church on site of Jesus’ miracle

(23-8-21) An iron cross was pried out of its foundation and stolen from the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha, Israel last week. The same church has been the object of previous vandalism; in June 2015 it was closed for several days after it was torched by intruders who scrawled slogans on the walls. A young Jewish extremist was convicted for the crime.

Bishop calls for end of ‘sit-at-home’ order in southeastern Nigeria

(23-8-21) The order was issued by a Biafran separatist group, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, as part of the insurgency in southeastern Nigeria.
Bishop Callistus Valentine Onaga of Enugu responded, “This part of the world is known for business, this part of the world is known for education and you tell us to sit at home, doing what? What of the parents, who will need to sell their goods in order to train their children, you tell them to sit at home. Is that the way we can progress?”

Zambia – The Bishop of Solwezi hopes that “the new President will fight rampant corruption and pacify the nation”

(23-8-21) The newly elected President of Zambia will have to “fight the rampant corruption, which has reached unprecedented levels in our nation”. This is what Bishop Charles Kasonde of Solwezi said in his address to the elected President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, who on August 24 has taken office with the swearing-in ceremony.
Bishop Kasonde expressed the hope that the next five years of President Hichilema’s government “will be a time of recovery, a time of economic prosperity and a time to cultivate the peace that God has given to the nation”. The Bishop of Solwezi launched an appeal to the people of Zambia for reconciliation and a renewed desire to be together as one nation, living “as brothers and sisters”.

Myanmar – After arrest by local militia in Chin State: priest and catechist return to pastoral service

 (23-8-21) The Catholic priest Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang and the catechist Clement Cung Hnin from the diocese of Hakha, who were kidnapped by the local Chinland Defense Force (CDF) and released on August 4th, are safe and continue their pastoral ministry. Fr. Paul Thla Kio, a priest from the Hakha diocese, confirmed that after their release, the two were able to return to their homes in Surkhua city.

Iraq – Patriarchal note explains why the reference to Babylon in the name of the Chaldean Patriarchate has been removed

(23-8-21) The reference to “Babylon”, so far contained in the name of the Chaldean Patriarchate, has been removed on the initiative of the last Chaldean Synod of Bishops because it has no historical basis. This emerges from a communication from the Patriarchate, which is intended as an answer to questions and disapproving comments that were published on the Internet after the decision of the Synod.
During the last Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church, which took place from August 9th to 14th in Baghdad, the participating bishops, together with Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, unanimously decided to give up the previously used designation “Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans” and replace it with the simple definition” Chaldean Patriarchate”.

Vietnam – The Church entrusts the difficulties of the present time to the Mother of La Vang

(23-8-21) In a time marked by pandemic, poverty, insecurity and uncertainty about the future, the Church in Vietnam is renewing its act of consecration to the Blessed Virgin of La Vang. In spite of all the adversities, many Vietnamese believers did not want to miss the opportunity to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption (August 13-15) in the shrine of La Vang. This year the celebration was completely different because of the Covid-19 pandemic: There were no large streams of pilgrims and Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue only celebrated, on account of the pandemic, one mass at the main altar of the Virgin of La Vang, with only a few concelebrating priests. Millions of Vietnamese faithful inside and outside the country who worship the mother of La Vang watched the solemn mass via the internet and social media as the celebration was broadcast live thanks to the efforts of the Archdiocese of Hue’s media office.
La Vang is the largest pilgrimage centre dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Vietnam and Indochina. It is located in Quang Tri Province, about 50 km north of Hue City. It was once a secluded place, covered in dense rainforest, home to many types of wildlife. It is said that in 1798, Blessed Mary appeared in La Vang jungle to help many local believers who had taken refuge there to escape the persecution of the government of the royal center of the city of Hue. While they were suffering, hungry and thirsty, the fugitives gathered under a large banana tree and confided their sufferings to the Blessed Virgin Mary, reciting the Rosary and praying. Suddenly the Virgin appeared to them and comforted them, pointing them to the leaves of the nearby bush to cure their illnesses. Before saying goodbye, the Virgin said: “From now on the prayer of everyone who comes here to invoke My Name will be heard and he will be blessed”. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Marian feasts and celebrations have been taking place on the initiative of the Catholic religious community, and every year many faithful come to venerate Our Lady of La Vang and thank her, in particular by renewing their request for patronage and protection on the Vietnamese people and on the country, which they now reaffirm in the face of today’s adversity – the fourth wave of Covid-19.

Justice sought after Catholic journalist assaulted in Bangladesh

(23-8-21) Rights activists in Bangladesh have demanded justice over an attack on a Catholic journalist by a local politician for publishing a news report on his alleged corruption.

Prince Edward Mangsang, an ethnic Garo Catholic and a reporter for Bengali news portal www.aswabi.com, was tied to a tree and beaten by Rahim Ahmed, chairman of Aronkhola Union Council, a local government body in the Madhupur area of Tangail district in central Bangladesh, on Aug. 22. “Mangsang was later arrested and sent to jail after Rahim Ahmed filed a case. We are still investigating,” a police official said. Ahmed was exposed for grabbing government land for personal use, bribery and unaccounted for wealth.

The violence against Mangsang was a violation of human rights, said Apurba Mrong, secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of Mymensingh Catholic Diocese covering the area.

Sri Lankan churches mark ‘Silent Black Protest Day’

(23-8-21) Catholic churches across Sri Lanka hoisted black flags to mark “Silent Black Protest Day” to protest the government’s inability to find the masterminds behind the 2019 Easter Sunday terrorist attacks on churches and hotels.

Black flags were flown at churches, businesses, offices and main streets across the country on Aug. 21. In some areas, Muslims and Buddhists hoisted black flags in a show of solidarity.

Church bells rang at 8.45am, the time of the first blast on Easter Sunday two years ago. Prayer services were held without congregations because of the Covid-19 lockdown which began after 10pm on Aug. 20.

Leading Catholic figures, notably Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, have piled pressure on the government to identify the real conspirators behind the suicide bombings. Cardinal Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said it has been revealed that there is a great conspiracy behind the Easter Sunday attacks.

Real power comes from service, says Myanmar’s Cardinal Bo

 (23-8-21) Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has highlighted service to the people, real power and legitimacy as Myanmar is ravaged by political turmoil following the military coup on Feb. 1.

He said every government that does not get its legitimacy from service to the people has not drawn its legitimacy from God. “Real power, as Pope Francis often cited, comes from service. Not imposing power on the innocents,” Cardinal Bo said in a homily on Aug. 22. “A nation built on justice. Anything else is idolatry. Israel fell into darkness because of idolatry.”

The cardinal lamented his nation, which was born with the great dream of peace and prosperity for all,

“Yet powerful people diluted this ideal. Created their own idols: power, possessions, extreme wealth at any cost, economic injustice, environmental injustice,” he said. He stressed that idolatry has overtaken the great ideals of Metta and Karuna. “For the last seven decades, these idol worshippers have robbed the ideal of a nation built on peace and prosperity for all. A dream became a nightmare.” Cardinal Bo decried the human agony following many deaths in the coup-hit country in the last six months.

The worsening Covid-19 crisis has also ravaged a country where the health service has virtually collapsed following thousands of doctors and nurses joining the mass civil disobedience movement.

24-8-21

Pope sending emergency aid to Haiti after earthquake

(24-8-21) Pope Francis has ordered the dicastery for Integral Human Development to send €200,000 ($235,000) to Haiti, to support emergency-relief efforts in the aftermath of an earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed 80,000 homes.

Papal greeting to Laudato Si’ conference

(24-8-21) Pope Francis has sent a brief video greeting to participants in an international conference on his encyclical Laudato Si’. The Pope said:

I hope that this effort will advance social awareness and consciousness for the care of our common home. The encyclical Laudato Si’ is not only a “green” Encyclical, it is also a “social” Encyclical. I hope that this Congress will help its full scope and all its consequences to be seen. I wish you all the best, God bless you and do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.

Archbishop Paglia: Some end-of-life care resembles new form of eugenics

(24-8-21) In a recent interview, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life spoke of “the temptation of a new form of eugenics: Whoever is not born healthy must not be born. This is combined on the other end of the life spectrum with the idea that those who are alive but not healthy must also die: this is euthanasia. It is a dangerous insinuation which poisons society.”
In the interview, Archbishop Paglia, who is concurrently Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, also took stock of the Institute in the five years since its reconstitution by Pope Francis. “The Institute needed a profound renewal, first of all in its curriculum,” he said.

Catholics assess Canada’s snap election

(24-8-21) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared an early election on September 20.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver “noted that in past elections, the number of practising Catholics who voted has been lower than the number of voters who do not attend church,” according to the report.

Mexico City archdiocese encourages Covid vaccination

(24-8-21) “We call on the population, especially believers, to go get vaccinated and not get carried away by fake news, which seeks to create confusion and doubts about the effectiveness of vaccines,” the archdiocese stated on August 22.
Mexico City’s archbishop, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, is among the bishops who appeared in the recent papal video encouraging vaccination.

Cameroon – Bishops of Bamenda call for an end to the conflict: “Our people are tired of living in uncertainty and fear”

(24-8-21) “We deplore the violence, insecurity, kidnappings, torture and senseless killings, sometimes of innocent people and children”, emphasized the Bishops of the Bishops’ Conference of Bamenda Province (BAPEC) in a statement published on Sunday, August 22nd, in which they renew their appeal for the end to the long conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
The BAPEC members appeal to all armed groups to “end the violence with immediate effect and work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict”. “Our people have suffered enough and are tired of living in uncertainty and fear”, said the bishops, who praised the commitment of the priests who “stood by the people entrusted to them with pastoral care and have made and continue to make heroic sacrifices in this time of crisis”.
On August 20, a seven-year-old student at the St. Theresa Catholic Primary School in the Kumbo diocese of Cameroon was killed by a stray bullet in a gun battle between Cameroonian soldiers and separatists near the school. On Sunday, August 22nd, a female parishioner was killed and a pastor was wounded during a service in the Presbyterian Church in northwest Bali.

Egypt – The number of churches and ecclesiastical buildings “approved” by the Egyptian government rises to 1958

(24-8-21) In July and August 2021, the Egyptian government confirmed that a further 76 churches and buildings owned by the church comply with the regulations for the construction of Christian houses of worship and the associated service buildings. This time the declaration concerned 27 Christian houses of worship and 49 associated buildings.

Australia – President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference urges the reception of Afghan refugees

(24-8-21) In a letter to the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge of Brisbane, expressed his deep concern and solidarity with the Afghan people. In the letter, Archbishop Coleridge stressed that the government’s decision to welcome 3,000 Afghans, in addition to the 8,000 refugees already admitted in the past, “is an important commitment”, “but it is certainly necessary to do more”. Based on estimates from major humanitarian organizations and the commitments from other countries, Archbishop Coleridge has proposed to make accommodation available for at least another 17,000 Afghan citizens.
“Australia has responded to major humanitarian crises on several occasions in the past”, notes Archbishop Coleridge. “In light of this, I urge the government to be generous in this case as well. Catholic organizations are ready to support the institutions in refugee resettlement.”

Catholics provide relief to Covid-19 patients in Indonesia

(24-8-21) Indonesia recorded what was by then the highest daily Covid count on June 17 with 12,624 cases. Jakarta alone had 4,144 cases. Many found it hard to get medical treatment because hospitals were full.

“I asked for permission from Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta to convert the pastoral centre into a self-isolation ward. He approved it,” Father Yustinus Ardianto, the director of the archdiocesan pastoral centre, said. On June 18, the self-isolation ward was opened offering free services for the disadvantaged. According to the priest, the number of Covid-19 cases rose steeply and decreased slowly, with fewer than six people currently in self-isolation.

Besides Wisma Samadi, six other self-isolation facilities are run by religious congregations and parishes in Jakarta Archdiocese. One is run by nuns from the Congregation of Sisters of Charity of Saint Charles Borromeo in East Jakarta when new cases of Corona recorded 56,000.

On July 28, St. Servatius Church in Bekasi, east of Jakarta, opened a self-isolation ward in cooperation with the local government and a Catholic senior high school.

Meanwhile, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd nuns in East Jakarta have converted five classrooms of a school they run into self-isolation wards since Aug. 7.

Bangladeshi Garo Christians protest destruction of plantations

(24-8-21) Hundreds of mostly Christian indigenous villagers from the Garo and other communities joined a protest rally to denounce what they said was the attempted eviction of five families from their homes and agricultural land by the Forest Department in north-central Bangladesh.

About 300 people joined the demonstration in Sherpur district town on Aug. 23 organized by Bangladesh Garo Student Council (BGCS). Protesters and activists alleged that forest officials cut down and destroyed 2 hectares of vegetable gardens and betel nut plantations belonging to five Garo families in Balijuri Christian Para village in the Shreebordi area of Sherpur on Aug. 12, causing a total loss of 250,000 taka (US$2,940).

HRW demands free movement for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

(24-8-21) A global human rights body has urged Bangladesh’s government to ensure free movement for Rohingya refugees after at least 11 drowned when their boat capsized while fleeing an island.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Aug. 24 that the government should permit Rohingya refugees to leave Bhasan Char island to allow them to be reunited with their families at refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar.

Catholic church saved from demolition in Pakistan….demolished

(24-8-21) The planned demolition of a Catholic church was put on hold owing to protests by a civil society group in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi.

However, (25-8-21) A Catholic church serving more than 300 Christian families in Pakistan’s commercial capital of Karachi was demolished on Aug. 24 despite resistance from a civil society group and warnings from UN human rights experts.

Karachi Bachao Tehreek (Save Karachi Movement), a group comprising lawyers, human rights defenders, journalists and minority activists said the anti-encroachment squad of the Sindh government tore down St. Joseph Church despite protests from the Christian community.

Mustafa Mehran, a lawyer, said two churches had already been demolished near Gujar Nala and this last one was remaining for the huge Christian population.

Local officials claimed the drive was launched after a court order to remove encroachments near two narrow streams passing through Karachi, locally known as the Gujjar nullah and the Orangi nullah, in the wake of the 2019 flash floods.

According to available data, more than 66,500 people have already been affected, with 4,900 houses demolished in Gujjar nullah and 1,700 in Orangi nullah.

Singaporean Catholics travel 800km to raise funds for children

(24-8-21) As the 80th anniversary of Canossaville Children and Community Services approached, a group of Singaporean Catholics decided to raise funds to help the nuns who run vital services for children and the community.

Cyclists and walkers from the C3 and Long Walk SG teams kicked off an online fundraising and awareness campaign, named 800 for 80th, from July 15 to Aug. 15.

Each traveled 800 kilometers as a show of solidarity for Canossaville. With the support of their family and friends, the volunteers raised S$12,000 (US$8,847) for the charity, reports Catholic News of Singapore Archdiocese.

Run by Canossian Sisters from 1941, Canossaville is a Catholic social service agency serving the lives of children and their families across their preschool and primary years regardless of race, language or religion.

25-8-21

Theme of Pope’s general audience: ‘The dangers of the Law

(25-8-21) Continuing his weekly Wednesday general audience series on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Pope Francis spoke on August 25 about the “dangers of the Law.” Here is the summary of his talk:

In our continuing catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians, we have seen how Paul teaches that those living in the grace of Christ are set free from the demands of the Mosaic Law. Today we consider Paul’s claim that he had reprimanded Saint Peter in this regard. Peter had taken meals with Gentile Christians, but ceased to do so when a group of circumcised Christians arrived from Jerusalem. For Paul, this was a form of “hypocrisy” (Gal 2:13) that caused division in the community. All hypocrisy is born of a fear that holds us back from speaking the full truth; it leads to a life of pretense, where we say one thing but do another. Hypocrisy spreads like a virus. We find it often in our workplaces, in political life and, most detestably, in the Church itself.

Jesus told us to let our yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no” (cf. Mt 5:37). To act otherwise is to jeopardize the very unity within the Church for which the Lord himself prayed.

Pope remembers Tokyo paralympics

(25-8-21) “Yesterday, in Tokyo, the Paralympics started. I send my greetings to the athletes and I thank them for offering everyone a testimony of hope and courage. In fact, they show how sporting commitment helps to overcome seemingly insurmountable difficulties,” the Pope said after the General Audience.

Paralympics a source of inspiration and hope, Vatican official says

(25-8-21) The Paralympic Games began in Tokyo on August 24. “Sport is still one of the greatest sources of inspiration for many people, and that is especially true of the Paralympic sport,” said Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca, who leads the sports department at the Pontifical Council for Culture. 

Holy See expresses deep concern over crisis in Afghanistan

(25-8-21) Msgr. John Putzer, who represented the Holy See at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, called on all parties in Afghanistan “to recognize and uphold the respect for the human dignity and fundamental rights of every person, including the right to life, the freedom of religion, the right to freedom of movement and the right to peaceful assembly.”

Msgr. Putzer also urged countries to “move from declaration to action” by welcoming refugees from Afghanistan – something that several nations are hesitant to do.

The U.K. government has announced plans to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees in coming years, according to the BBC. Canada has also announced that it will help to resettle 20,000 Afghans. Uganda has agreed to take in 2,000 Afghan refugees. India is granting emergency visas to Afghan nationals for the next six months, and Mexico has also already welcomed asylum seekers arriving from Afghanistan.

Nun decries Texas governor’s executive order forbidding transportation of migrants

(25-8-21) In 2020, Time magazine named Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, to its list of 100 most influential people.
In issuing his executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott cited the “imminent threat of disaster” posed by Covid. The Biden administration has filed suit against the order.

Armenian Christian cemetery desecrated in Turkey

(25-8-21) “Local witnesses report that, in recent days, a landowner brought bulldozers to the cemetery and purposely damaged the graves,” according to the report on the desecration, which took place in Van province.

South Sudan – Bishop Kussala on the murder of the former commissioner: “He was a man of peace”

(25-8-21) “I offer my condolences on the tragic death of Babiro Charles Gbamisi, who was shot and killed in an assassination attempt this morning,” said Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan, on the violent death of Babiro Charles Gbamisi, former District Commissioner of Tambura in the state of Western Equatoria who was killed in an attack in his home by an armed group on the morning of August 24th.
“I knew Charles personally”, the Bishop of Tombura-Yambio continued. “He wanted to be a priest, but then decided to serve his community as a politician and administrator, following an example from his own family, in particular from his father, who had committed himself to the community. He actively campaigned for peace and an end to the bloodshed in the district where he had been administrator. He kept asking himself, “What can we do to stop the violence?”. Charles was killed by the very same violence that he fought with peaceful means”, he underlined.

Myanmar – Diocese of Pathein wants to contribute to overcoming the coronavirus pandemic with its aid programs

(25-8-21) The Catholic community in the Diocese of Pathein provides all human and material resources, facilities and financial support to help cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is what the administrator of the diocese, Fr. Henry Eikhlein, wrote since the death of Bishop John Hsane Hgyi Pathein, who died on July 22, 2021 due to Covid-19.
The College of Consultors of the diocese convened the assembly which unanimously elected Fr. Henry Eikhlein as Diocesan Administrator.
In the Letter sent to priests, religious and lay people of the diocese, F Eikhlein, the new diocesan Administrator, reports on the opening of the “Quarantine and Care Centre” organized by “Karuna” in the Pathein Social Center. There are also other similar centers in the diocese, such as the one cared for by the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier in Theyetpin Maung Nama. All 36 parishes are alerted and people stay at home, following national Covid-19 prevention measures and guidelines. Parish priests are encouraged to form special teams of volunteers and take immediate action to provide relief and care for those in need. Despite these efforts, the diocese of Pathein has so far lost the bishop, three priests, three religious, two women religious, a catechist and over 20 lay people.

Haiti – Camillians provide help after earthquakes: “We must give people dignity and love, as Jesus teaches us”

(25-8-21) “Our medical team is mobilized and is already available to continue welcoming more and more people and provide them with the necessary care. We wish the Haitian people resilience, let us arm ourselves with courage and use our intelligence to live these difficult times by seeking solidarity and giving dignity and love to patients, as Jesus taught us”, said Father Robert Daudier, director of the Saint Camille Hospital in Port-au-Prince, in an interview with Fides on the programme of material and spiritual aid launched by the Camillians after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the Caribbean island on August 14th.
The Camillian religious present in Haiti, both in Port-au-Prince and in Jérémie, immediately started to provide the people with first aid supplies. “In Jérémie – the missionary reports – we run out of almost all of our food, medicine and medical supplies in order to help the people immediately. The roads are blocked by landslides and many villages cannot be reached”, explains Father Daudier, “there is a lack of drinking water, diesel and electricity. Last week a group of volunteers left the Saint Camille Hospital in Port-au-Prince in various vehicles to bring food, medicine, clothing and more to the earthquake victims”, he continued. “We continue to receive the sick, injured and traumatized people from the earthquake areas. Our operating theaters are at full capacity”.

Nun attacked, robbed in Bangladesh

(25-8-21) A nun of the Catechist Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was attacked and injured by a thief. The attack took place in recent days in Sreeghonti, in the diocese of Rajshahi. Sister Scholastica Jopomala Gomes, who teaches at St. Joseph’s Haigh College in Bonpara, just six kilometres from the convent to which she was returning, got out of her rickshaw and was walking along the street when a man tried to steal her bag. When the Catholic nun tried to protect herself, the thief punched her and fled with the stolen goods: a mobile phone, a watch and some money. 

Fr. Joseph Mistri, a member of the Society of Jesus and parish priest in Bhabanipur, reported that the nun was seriously injured in one eye, so after reporting the incident to the local police, she was transferred to Dhaka, where she will receive better treatment.

Christians jailed, children detained in China

(25-8-21) Chinese police have raided a Sunday meeting of an independent Protestant church in Sichuan province, jailed two church members and placed several minors under custody.

Without any search warrant, policemen moved and disrupted a gathering of the members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in provincial capital Chengdu on Aug. 22, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Indonesian police arrest Christian YouTuber for blasphemy

(25-8-21) Indonesian police have arrested a Christian YouTuber, Muhammad Kace, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, after a series of complaints were filed by Muslims accusing him of blasphemy, claiming the prophet was “surrounded by devils and liars.”

The comments were uploaded on his YouTube channel on Aug. 23 and went viral. Police investigation official said they had discovered he had uploaded at least 400 videos on YouTube insulting Islam.

Daughter’s sacrifice brings hope to Indonesian family

(25-8-21) After graduating from a private school last year, Kristina Viani Varnilan chose to leave her village on the predominantly Catholic Indonesian island of Flores to earn a living in Makassar, South Sulawesi province, to help support her family.

The eldest of four children, Varnilan, 20, became the main breadwinner after her father, Siprianus Judin, 45, started showing signs of mental illness, while her 40-year-old mother, Birgita Gimbul, was already suffering from a mental condition and could not work.

For her to leave, a 17-year-old brother had to quit school to look after their parents along with their two other siblings, aged 13 and 10. She worked as a housemaid in Makassar in order to support the family; but had to return when her daddy’s mental condition worsened and he became very violent; she, following the common custom, had to keep him in shackles just to keep him under control.

For Varnilan and her siblings, their situation has forced them into working in the fields to survive and take care of their parents. However, thanks to a website’s reports, help came from many people and even from local authorities. Accordingly, the parents were admitted to Renceng Mose Rehabilitation Centre in Ruten run by Brothers of Charity Congregation and payment was waived. In addition, she was given scholarship to study midwifery in the Catholic University of St Paul, RUteng.

Exhuberant, she said she has to look at her younger siblings continuing their education.

Rights awards mark anniversary of India’s anti-Christian violence

(25-8-21) The human rights awards instituted to honour the victims and survivors of the worst anti-Christian violence in eastern India’s Kandhamal district were presented this year, though virtually, to the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and late human rights activist Paul Pradhan.

The annual awards were set up by the National Solidarity Forum (NSF) comprising 70 organizations and groups which came together in the wake of the 2008 mass violence in Odisha state’s Kandhamal district to help the affected people deal with trauma, rehabilitation and justice issues.

A press statement by NSF described PUCL as a human rights body that was formed in 1976 and has worked tirelessly ever since to protect the powerless and help create a truly democratic and just society. Paul Pradhan, who was honoured posthumously, had worked with rare dedication for the empowerment of women and the rights of tribal people and Dalits in Odisha. He died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 72 on July 10.

Father Ajaya Kumar Singh, a human rights activist and former director of Odisha Forum for Social Action, told UCA News that the inaugural awards were presented by former chief justice of Delhi High Court A.P. Shah at a webinar on Aug. 25, the anniversary day.

26-8-21

Israeli rabbis ask Pope to clarify remarks on Jewish Law

(26-8-21) In his August 11 general audience on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and the Mosaic law, Pope Francis said, “The Law, however, does not give life, it does not offer the fulfillment of the promise because it is not capable of being able to fulfill it. . . . .Those who seek life need to look to the promise and to its fulfillment in Christ.”
Rabbi Rasson Arousi, chair of the Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for Dialogue with the Holy See, responded, “The Pope presents the Christian faith as not just superseding the Torah; but asserts that the latter no longer gives life, implying that Jewish religious practice in the present era is rendered obsolete. This is in effect part and parcel of the ‘teaching of contempt’ towards Jews and Judaism that we had thought had been fully repudiated by the Church.”

Fearful Afghan Christians struggle to leave, not given evacuation priority

(26-8-21) Christian relief agencies complain that Afghan Christians were being turned away from the Kabul airport as thousands of people sought to flee Afghanistan. The US State Department has given priority to several groups seeking evacuation, but Christians and other religious minorities are not given that favoured status.

Italian religious becomes first female secretary of Vatican dicastery

(26-8-21) Pope Francis has appointed Sister Alessandra Smerilli as acting secretary of the dicastery for Integral Human Development—making her the first woman to hold that role in a Vatican dicastery. The 46-year-old Italian economics professor will replace two clerics, Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffé and Father Augusto Zampini, who had served as secretary and adjunct secretary.

Missionaries of Charity arrive safely from Afghanistan

(26-8-21) Five sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, arrived safely in Rome on August 25, having been evacuated from Afghanistan. Father Giovanni Scalese, who for eight years had celebrated Mass at the only Catholic church in Afghanistan, was on the same flight. They were accompanied by 14 disabled children who had lived at the orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity in Kabul.

Leading Nigerian bishop decries bad governance

 (26-8-21) President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze, said at the opening of the second plenary of the CBCB on August 22 in Enugu: The call for constitutional reforms that respect the rights of every Nigerian, and provide opportunities for equal access to the resources of Nigeria is something that should be debated fairly. “The right to self-determination should follow a civilized pattern and should not be demonized. The Church believes that the Government must avoid criminalizing those who disagree with them.” He also said: “The level of insecurity in every part of the country is of great concern to us Bishops. Many of us Bishops have had to bury our faithful who died because of attacks of insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, cultists, and those who have died because of road accidents caused by bad roads. Too many Nigerians are dying of preventable deaths, the Federal Government, State Government, and Local Government must rise to their responsibility.”

Argentine archbishop decries Pope’s move against traditional Mass

(26-8-21) A retired Argentine archbishop has said that Pope Francis places “arbitrary limits and obstacles” on the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. “The new measures imply a regrettable step backwards,” said Archbishop Hector Aguer, who led the La Plata archdiocese until his retirement in 2018. The archbishop—who said that he himself does not celebrate the traditional Mass—charged that the Pope had shown a lack of respect “for the freedom of priests and the faithful.” He added, however, that he would accept the restrictions of Traditionist Custodes “if the Holy See would attend to what I call the devastation of the liturgy, which is verified in multiple cases.”

Philippine bishops call for observance of Season of Creation, warn planet is ‘on verge of the abyss’

(26-8-21) The Season of Creation, an ecumenical initiative, begins on September 1—the World Day of Prayer for Creation in the Orthodox churches (since 1989) and the Catholic Church (since 2015)—and concludes on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In 2019, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Pope Francis lent official support to observance of the season.

Valencia archdiocese celebrates Jubilee Year of the Holy Chalice

(26-8-21) Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to all who make a pilgrimage to Valencia, Spain, to venerate the chalice, a Spanish religion news site reported. The archdiocese has published a website devoted to the holy chalice, which Pope Benedict XVI used at a 2006 Mass.

Africa – Attacks in the Sahel are increasing: the bishops of Niger and Burkina Faso express concern

(26-8-21) The attacks by jihadist groups are increasing in the countries of the Sahel, especially in the so-called triangle between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso on August 18, at least 47 people, including 30 civilians, were killed in an attack on a convoy on the Arabinda-Gorgadji road in the north of the country.
An “atrocious act that we condemn in the strongest possible way”, said the Bishops’ Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN) in a statement on 23 August. The bishops invite the “sons and daughters of the Church of the Family of God in Burkina Faso “to increase their prayers for peace in the country”.
Niger is confronted with various groups that are connected to Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State (IS) and are active in the west of the country, as well as with the Nigerian group Boko Haram and its wing, which after the split became the “Islamic State in West Africa” and operates in the Lake Chad area.
The circumstances of the attack that occurred in Mali on August 19 are now known more precisely.

Iraq – The movement of Muqtada al Sadr relaunches the campaign to return houses and land illegally stolen from Christians and Mandeans

(26-8-21) In a statement released by various Iraqi media on August 25, Hakim al Al-Zamili, a leading member of the “Sadrists” (supporter of the political group led by Muqtada al Sadr), stated that the last of the properties returned to their rightful Christian and Mandaean owners are in the Baghdad area, and that the committee set up ad hoc on the instructions of Al-Sadr to accompany the return has so far collected more than 140 return requests from Christian and Mandaean citizens who had been the victims of illegal expropriation of their real estate in recent phases of Iraqi history.
The request to report cases of illegal expropriations has been extended to include Christian families who have left the country in recent years, with a request to submit reports of fraudulent expropriations to the committee by the end of next Ramadan. The “legalized” theft of property from Christian families is closely related to the mass exodus of Iraqi Christians, which has intensified since 2003 after the US-led military interventions to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Peru – Bishops on the division of the country: “We need reconciliation”

(26-8-21) In their joint message of August 25th, the Peruvian bishops affirmed that they “share the suffering and great uncertainty that our beloved country is experiencing”. They said: In the pursuit of the common good and democracy, “the political mechanisms of anger, aggravation and polarization” are certainly not helpful. Instead, the mechanisms provided for by the Constitution and the current legal system should be used. That is why the message says: “Let us orient democracy towards freedom and avoid all authoritarianism. Towards equality and in the fight against all forms of discrimination and poverty. Towards brotherhood and to promote social friendship and the care of our great cultural diversity and biodiversity”.

Nicaragua – Cardinal Brenes invites everyone to comply with the coronavirus rules

 (26-8-21) “Aware of the critical health situation we are facing, I invite you, with faith and trust in Divine Providence, with serenity and great responsibility, not to let your guard down in observing the basic protocol (use of masks, disinfecting hands and recommended physical distance); a protocol that must be followed both on a personal level and in the liturgical and ecclesial spaces that are under our ecclesial responsibility. It is the duty and duty of all of us, pastors and faithful, to join efforts to care for our health and to give witness to a responsible and supportive Church”, said the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, in a circular addressed to all the faithful of the Archdiocese.

Afghan Sikhs return to India at ‘end of an era’

(26-8-21) The evacuation of Sikhs and Hindus from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to India marks a new chapter in the history of Sikhism.

On Aug. 24, three copies of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs, were flown out of Kabul and will be now retained with religious sanctity in Delhi and other parts of the country. Among the 75 persons arriving in the county on Aug. 24 were 46 Afghan Sikhs. The previous day had seen the arrival of 23 Afghan Sikhs. The return of the members of this warrior and agrarian community after having lived in Afghanistan for ages is a significant development.

Rewards for spying on ‘illegal religious activities’ in China

(26-8-21) Local authorities in northeastern China have introduced financial rewards for people to spy on their neighbours and report “illegal religious activities.”

The local branch of the United Front Work Department in Meilisi Daur district of Qiqihar in Heilongjiang province launched the scheme this month, reported China Christian Daily.

The department is the umbrella intelligence and coordination body of the Chinese Communist Party that gathers intelligence, manages relations and attempts to influence individuals and organizations including religions and religious groups inside and outside China.

Tears and fears over church demolition in Pakistan

(26-8-21) Parishioners in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi cried when the cross and tabernacle were removed from St. Joseph Church ahead of its demolition on Aug. 24.

“It was a painful experience. They described it as worse than losing their homes,” Father Benjamin Shehzad, former parish priest of St. Joseph, told UCA News. A few plastic chairs stand amid the piles of debris where the church once stood. A salvaged cross has been placed in a corner. Iron beams sprout out of its torn roof following the government’s anti-encroachment drive near two narrow streams passing through Karachi, locally known as the Gujjar nullah and the Orangi nullah, in the wake of the 2019 flash floods in the capital of the southern Sindh province.

St. Joseph Church had 85 families of parishioners, most of them poor labourers. It is one of three churches standing among the remains of wrecked houses. According to available data, more than 66,500 people have already been affected, with 4,900 houses demolished in Gujjar nullah and 1,700 in Orangi nullah.

State lauds Vietnam’s religions for fighting Covid-19

(26-8-21) Vietnam’s deputy minister of home affairs, Vu Chien Thang, has praised local religious groups’ efforts to follow measures to contain the coronavirus and provide generous contributions to victims.

He said religious organizations have made donations to government-run funds for vaccinations, supplied medical equipment to hospitals, called on their followers to join frontline forces, and provided much food and basic commodities for people in misery. “I am particularly impressed by images of Christian volunteers facing a high risk of infection taking care of patients and handing food to people in areas stricken by the outbreak and isolated places, as well as transporting medical supplies to hospitals,” he said, adding that although many Christians are from ethnic groups and many are Covid-19 victims, churches make generous donations to the fight against the pandemic.

He praised many priests, religious and laypeople who have committed themselves to bringing tender care and the flame of love to patients at hospitals.

27-8-21

European bishops’ spokesman decries Western response in Afghanistan

(27-8-21) Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, the president of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, has said that he is ashamed of Western nations’ response to the crisis in Afghanistan. “The only thing we are discussing is what to do in order to not have a large number of refugees from Afghanistan, rather than go to the aid of these people,” he said.

Traditionalist groups to meet in Rome, discuss motu proprio

(27-8-21) The leaders of priestly groups dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass will meet in Rome next week to discuss the implications of Traditionis Custodes for their work. Contrary to some published reports, the heads of the groups—the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the Institute of the Good Shepherd—were not summoned to Rome, and have no meetings scheduled with Vatican officials.

Crisis is opportunity, Pope reminds lawmakers

(27-8-21) “One of the greatest challenges on this horizon in our time is markedly the stewardship of technology for the common good,” Pope Francis said at an August 27 meeting with the International Catholic Legislators Network. He repeated his oft-mentioned belief that the world’s recovery from the Covid lockdown offers a special opportunity for political leaders:

Not just to defeat the virus, nor even to return to the status quo prior to the pandemic – no, that would be a defeat – but to address the root causes that the crisis has revealed and amplified: poverty, social inequality. widespread unemployment and lack of access to education.

Bishops call for end to violence, bloodletting in Nigeria

(27-8-21) “Regrettably, except for the civil war [1967-70], our nation has never witnessed the kind of widespread evil, wanton destruction and murderous bloodletting,” the bishops of Africa’s most populous nation said in their statement. “Life has never been so cheap, nor has Nigeria ever been at the stage we are now.”

Canadian cathedral vandalized again

(27-8-21) Since June, there have been ten incidents of vandalism at five churches in Prince George, (British Columbia), a city of 74,000. The Royal Canadian Mountain Police has published a summary of the incidents.

Peru Church leaders warn against ‘authoritarianism’

(27-8-21) The Catholic bishops of Peru have warned against “extreme political polarization” and “every kind of authoritarianism” in the wake of contentious national elections that put President Pedro Castillo in power, defeating Keiko Fujimori. After a narrow victory, Castillo now faces a challenge gaining parliamentary support for his cabinet.

Pope still in slow recovery from surgery

(27-8-21) Pope Francis remains limited in his physical activities because of his slow recovery from July 4 intestinal surgery, he admitted at an August 27 audience with European legislators. The Pontiff opened his remarks to the group by apologizing for remaining seated as he spoke, saying that “I am still in the post-operative recovery period.”

South Sudan – Bishop of Tombura-Yambio warns of “hate messages” on social media

 (27-8-21) “There are too many hate messages on social media”, denounced Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan, in a statement in which he stigmatizes the use of modern means of mass communication to perpetuate the climate of hatred and violence that has plagued the region for years.
“We live in a climate of insecurity that has led to great losses of innocent human life, the destruction of property, displacement, unrest, hunger and suffering of all kinds”, continued the Bishop. “We can no longer bear this situation, we have to do something to end the violence”. The most basic step is to stop the hate speech that is constantly circulating on social media, he said.

Egypt – Coptic Patriarch warns young people about loss of humanity through social media

(27-8-21) “One sociologist said: With the invention of the mobile phone, the era of humanity came to an end. And this is a serious matter: we have started to measure our humanity with technological tools, but machines have no human feelings”. With these words, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, warns of the dangers of dehumanization through the influence of social media, which in his opinion threaten social coexistence. He did this in an address to about 200 Egyptian boys and girls who took part in the first “Logos Forum” of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Philippines – Fasting and penance for 40 days amid the pandemic

(27-8-21) The Catholic community of Zamboanga, on the island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, will experience 40 days of fasting and penance as the country continue  to struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic. Bishop Moises Cuevas, Apostolic Administrator of Zamboanga, announced the initiative “in solidarity with those suffering from the effects of the pandemic”. The special “autumn Lent” will begin on October 13th with the ringing of church bells in the entire archdiocese after the rosary has been prayed at 8 p.m. In the weeks leading up to the time of penance, catechesis will be held in all parishes to prepare the faithful for this special time of penance and prayer.

The Bishop asked the parishes to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in order to promote the spiritual and moral renewal of all the faithful. The 40-day period will end on November 21st, Sunday of Christ the King, with a special “penitential journey” from the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to the Shrine of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar.

Myanmar – No right to health: Rohingya excluded from vaccination campaign

(27-8-21) The authorities in Myanmar have so far excluded the Muslim Rohingya minority from vaccination programs against Covid-19 and denied them health care and the right to health. The Rohingya live in densely packed camps in the Burmese state of Rakhine in western Myanmar. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during military operations in 2017. Those who stayed in Myanmar complain of discrimination and mistreatment in a country that does not recognize them as citizens.

Puerto Rico – Bishops express themselves unequivocally: Catholic moral teaching is not a pretext for opponents of vaccinations 

(27-8-21) In Puerto Rico, 2,742 people have died of corona and a total of 164,179 have been infected. And those numbers continue to rise, as do hospitalizations. The Bishops’ Conference of Puerto Rico recalled Pope Francis declaration that vaccination is “an act of love, an act of charity” towards oneself and towards one’s neighbor, in favour of the common good and that there should be no ethical or moral concerns or conflicts of conscience. Against those who say that vaccination is against the Church’s teaching, the bishops of Puerto Rico expressly affirm: “Priests, deacons or pastoral workers of the Church should not confirm any such exceptions which have no basis in the moral teaching of the Church”.

Indonesian cleric nabbed for insulting Christianity

(27-8-21) Indonesian police have arrested and charged a Muslim cleric with blasphemy for allegedly insulting Christians.

The arrest comes three days after a Muslim convert to Christianity was arrested for allegedly insulting Islam. Muhammad Yahya Waloni, a former Protestant who became a Muslim in 2006 and became a preacher, was arrested on Aug. 26 at his residence in Jakarta. He is accused of blasphemy and hate speech, insulting Christianity by claiming the Holy Bible was fiction and fake in one of his sermons.

The arrest followed a complaint that was filed in April with police by a civil group.

Sri Lankan religious leaders decry police statement

(27-8-21) Interfaith leaders in Sri Lanka have condemned a statement by senior police officers named by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attack that investigations and legal work connected to the probe had a racist and religious dimension.

“The statement appears to have a nefarious purpose of pushing the investigation and legal action of the Easter Sunday attack to a racist and religious level,” Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Catholic leaders said in a statement on Aug. 25. “We urge the authorities to remain steadfast in the face of such extremist statements and to conduct investigations and legal action regarding the Easter Sunday attack in a fair and transparent manner without political interference.” 

Senior deputy inspector general Nandana Munasinghe and Deshabandu Tennakoon claimed they had been unjustly victimized by the commission and questioned whether they had been charged because they were Sinhala Buddhists.

Church mourns death of New Delhi’s Syro-Malankara bishop

(27-8-21) The Indian Church is mourning the death of 60-year-old Syro-Malankara rite Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas of Gurgaon, Delhi, who passed away at a private hospital in New Delhi on Aug. 26 due to post-Covid complications. He is the fifth Indian bishop to succumb to Covid-19.

Exhibition seeks support for church-run kitchen for poor Koreans

(27-8-21) A Catholic group, One Body, One Spirit (OBOS), in South Korea has started a month-long exhibition at Myeongdong Cathedral in capital Seoul to seek sponsors and volunteers for a church-run soup kitchen that provides free food for hundreds of poor and hungry.

The exhibits use recycled boxes used for food delivery at Myeongdong Bajib, which symbolizes the hope that those who have been hurt and rendered marginalized due to difficulties in their lives will return to a better, new life one day, organizers say.

28-8-21

South Africa – Combating violence: Bishops call for an inclusive economy and education

(28-8-21) After the violence that broke out in July following the conviction of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption, the Bishops of South Africa have proposed to the government measures for reconciliation. Among others, the bishops speak of inclusive economy and education. “With the high unemployment rate, we need to move towards an economy that is inclusive and reduces poverty. The quality of education is inadequate and young people cannot become productive after training. We must also look to the more rural areas of the country: the government must work for development there too, so that the people who live there can earn a decent livelihood, and because they are fundamental areas that make a significant contribution to the economy”.

Middle East – Election of the new patriarch: Armenian Catholic bishops will meet in the Vatican from September 20th

(28-8-21) The Armenian Catholic Bishops of the dioceses in the Middle East and in the countries of the Armenian Diaspora will meet in Rome from September 20th to elect their new Patriarch. This was confirmed by the Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Boutros Marayati, current Administrator of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of the Church.

Bangladesh – Catholics plant a million trees in the spirit of Laudato Sì

(28-8-21) As part of the “Laudato Sì” Year and on the occasion of the centenary of the “founder of the nation” and the year in which Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence, the country’s Catholics have planted around a million trees. This is shared by the small Catholic Church in Bangladesh, which has only 400,000 believers in the country with over 165 million inhabitants. The initiative was started on August 14, 2020 by Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario and all the Catholic Bishops of Bangladesh.

America – “MigraSegura”: Digital platform with useful information for Venezuelan refugees

(28-8-21) The digital platform “MigraSegura” is aimed at migrants, especially Venezuelans looking for reliable information about basic services and the migration policy in Brazil and Ecuador. The digital offer is the result of the collaboration between Caritas Ecuador and Caritas Brazil, which launched the initiative with the support of the “JuntosEsMejor Challenge” foundation, USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as with the support of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The platform was officially launched on August 26th via the website www.facebook.com/migrasegura.
Venezuelan migrants, who are often victims of human trafficking networks and criminal groups due to the lack of guidance, should be informed on the platform in good time. With more than five and a half million Venezuelans estimated to have left their country as a result of the crisis in Venezuela, “there is a need to provide information to Venezuelan refugees and migrants in order to save lives and provide truthful information to the decision-making process so that they can travel safely”.

29-8-21

Pope at Angelus: look at life starting from the heart

(29-8-21) The Gospel for today’s liturgy shows a few scribes and Pharisees amazed by Jesus’ attitude. They are scandalized because his disciples pick up food without first performing the traditional ritual ablutions. They think among themselves “This way of doing things is contrary to the religious practice” (cf. Mk 7:2-5). 

Pope Francis recalled the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts when a few scribes and Pharisees were scandalized because Jesus’ disciples did not perform the traditional ablutions before eating. The Pope asked why they did not conform to these traditions, especially since they offer good ritual habits, such as simple washing before eating. The answer, he said, was more about making sure we keep faith at the centre of our focus in all matters and avoiding being focused solely on outward formality. This can become a religious practice where outward devotion and appearances matter most and we overlook the worship which Jesus desires with “a faith that touches the heart”. 

In the Gospel reading, Jesus says, “There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him” (v. 15). The Pope explained that it is “‘from within, out of the heart’ (v. 21) that evil things are born.” Jesus’ teaching was a novelty for His time, changing the traditional perspective which saw externals as the cause of evil. Blaming everything and everyone outside ourselves is a waste of time, the Pope stressed, and can cause us to become angry and bitter, keeping God far from our hearts. He added, one cannot be truly religious when these problems creep into one’s heart, since anger, resentment and sadness close the door to God. We need to pray for the grace not to waste time “polluting” our world with complaints, since this is not Christian. “Jesus instead invites us to look at life and the world starting from our heart”, he said, and by sincerely asking God to purify our hearts.

Pope Francis calls for prayer, fasting for Afghanistan, victims of Venezuelan rain, landslide

 (29-8-21) Pope Francis called upon Christians to show solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, especially women and children, the victims of violent attacks in recent days. “I am following the situation in Afghanistan with great concern,” Pope Francis said on Sunday after Angelus prayer. Pope Francis insisted that “in historical moments like this we cannot remained indifferent,” and for Christians it is a duty to respond. For this reason, he said, “I appeal to everyone to intensify prayer and practise fasting: prayer and fasting, prayer and penance. Now is the time to do it.”

Pope Francis expressed his “closeness” to the people of the Venezuelan state of Merida, which has been struck by torrential rains and ensuing landslides.

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