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13 February 2016
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    12/02/2016 - CUBA – VATICAN – ORTHODOX

    The first meeting in centuries between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow took place in a relaxed and fraternal atmosphere. Two hours of private talks were followed by the signing of a Joint Declaration. As he thanked Raul Castro, the pope said, "If things continue like this, Cuba will be the capital of unity." Both leaders are committed to defending Christians around the world and support "the foundations of morality, the family and the person".




    12/02/2016 - VATICAN – CUBA – ORTHODOX

    Francis and Kirill: Orthodox and Catholics united vis-à-vis persecuted Christians and the secularised West


    In the Joint Declaration signed in Havana, the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow emphasise the world’s evils and the need for Christians to bear witness together. Both stand for the natural marriage of a man and a woman, the right to life, and the need for inter-faith dialogue. Both are saddened by the scandal of division, and jointly appeal for an end to religious persecution, for peace in Ukraine and for unity based on "tangible gestures." The full text of the Declaration follows.


    12/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: the Missionaries of Mercy cannot absolve unlawful bishops


    In a letter, Mgr Fisichella does not include this in the list of sins reserved for the Holy See that the Missionaries of Mercy can absolve. This involves bishops ordained "without papal mandate” in China and within the Lefebvrian community.


    12/02/2016 - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    Francis and Kirill, the "alliance against" and the desire for unity (II)

    by Ieromonaco Ioann

    The meeting at the airport of Havana is a "fleeting encounter" for fear of negative reactions of the orthodox conservatives. Although political reasons seem to prevail ( "alliance against" terrorism, secularism, moral relativism, Islam, liberalism, Protestants, ...), the event is a step on the path towards full unity between Catholics and Orthodox. The second part of an article by a leading figure of the Moscow Patriarchate.

     


    12/02/2016 - SYRIA

    World powers agree to "cease hostilities" in Syria. But skepticism reigns


    The fighting should end within a week. Agreement also reached on increased aid distribution as of today. Battle against jihadist groups to continue as well as siege of Aleppo. Skepticism in Damascus: "For five years we have had statements, but few hard facts." Dimitri Medvedev: Dialogue is better than the outbreak of  "a new world war."

     


    12/02/2016 - MEXICO - VATICAN

    For PIME missionary in Mexico, Francis’ visit should make history, not become a tinsel


    Fr Damiano Tina, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, has been in the country since 2008, in the state of Guerrero, where violence and drug trafficking are rampant. “Expectations are high for the pontiff’s arrival,” he told AsiaNews. People “expect Francis to point the finger at the many things that do not work in Mexico, like corruption, violence, kidnapping, and drug trafficking.” Although he will do so, there is a risk that things might not go behind speeches. Once the pontiff has left, the local Church will have to make “a qualitative change”.


    12/02/2016 - INDIA

    Even non-Catholics pray at the Indian shrine of Our Lady of Gunadala

    by Benigna Menezes*

    Yesterday, the diocese celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, marking the first apparition of Our Lady to Bernadette. PIME missionaries founded the diocese and brought a statue of the Virgin in 1928. Placed on a hill, the latter protects “the city and brings it closer to Jesus." The shrine drew 1.4 million faithful, including non-Christians.


    12/02/2016 - KOREA

    Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang rise as Cold War fears cast a shadow over Korea


    After North Korea’s rocket launch triggers South Korea’s reaction, communications hotlines are cut and the joint Kaesong industrial park is shut down. Source tells AsiaNews that the situation "is really serious this time.”


    12/02/2016 - INDIA

    Interfaith pilgrimage to the cities of India’s great religions "to understand the faith"

    by Nirmala Carvalho

    A group of seven people of different faiths from Australia have already visited Delhi and Varanasi, symbolic places for Islam and Hinduism. Now they will travel to Bodh Gaya (the cradle of Buddhism) and Kolkata, important for Christians thanks to Mother Teresa. “It is also true, that at times people are afraid; however, faith is always open to others”. Sadly, “Those who close in on themselves do not understand their own faith”.


    12/02/2016 - CHINA - VATICAN

    The Pope’s interview on China has not allayed the Catholics fears

    by Wang Meixiu*

    A researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences comments on Francis’ words about the Asian country: "pleasant" references to respect for the culture and for the people, "surprising" the absence of any reference to religious matters. The faithful have some doubts, but they hope that their fears will soon be allayed.
     


    12/02/2016 - BANGLADESH

    Bangladesh, another robbery of Catholic nuns: "It is not an isolated incident"


    A dozen people have raid clinic run by religious, threatening them and stealing phones, cash and gold chains. Resident Muslims and Catholics, warned by the pastor, captured two thieves. The episode takes place four days after a similar attack in another province. Secretary of Justice and Peace: "These attacks are premeditated and intended to harm our Christian community."

     


    12/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Patriarch Laham: Syria agreement a positive step, now common front against the Islamic State


    Gregory III hopes that the agreement "can be beneficial to the country and its people." He urges continued alliance against Daesh and other jihadist groups. And he calls for mediation between "the Syrian government and the real internal opposition." Only foreign mercenay fighters do not want peace. Encounter between Francis and Kirill the hope of a united and fixed Easter.
     


    11/02/2016 - CHINA

    Xi Jinping uses "traditional culture" to launch a new Cultural Revolution

    by Willy Lam

    On the 50th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s disastrous ideological campaign, his successor accumulates power, builds a cult of personality that is unprecedented in modern times, and targets any "foreign influences" that might "destabilize" China. The brutal persecution of Christians is clear evidence of that. His underlings’ obsequiousness does not bode well for the future. A leading expert on China looks at the situation, courtesy of the Jamestown Foundation.


    11/02/2016 - VATICAN - HOLY LAND

    Raising funds for Holy Land on behalf of “Refugees, displaced persons, the elderly, children, and the sick” who “are all in need of our help”


    Raised funds will finance the upkeep of holy sites in the Holy Land, as well as pay for educational activities, housing for young couples, and aid for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.


    11/02/2016 - PAKISTAN

    In Lahore, Muslim women and Catholics slam Valentine's Day for destroying the family

    by Kamran Chaudhry

    The women’s branch of Jamat-e-Islami, a conservative party, organised a protest near stalls selling Valentine Day accessories. For protesters, “Western” culture and consumerism are corrupting children. On the feast day of Saint Valentine, Catholics will visit a centre for the disabled in Lahore. Saint Valentine’s story is different from what appears in ads.


    11/02/2016 - LEBANON

    Lent, a special time for corporal and spiritual works of mercy

    by Fady Noun

    Abstinence is not only giving up something pleasurable, like chocolate or coffee. One can find how to deepen the meaning of the commandments in John Paul II’s catechesis.  Pope Francis calls for the rediscovery of all forms of poverty. Mercy is not goodness, but has a strong political connotation.


    11/02/2016 - SRI LANKA

    Tewatta, Catholics celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lanka (video)

    by Melani Manel Perera

    Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Catholics of Sri Lanka share a deep reverence for the Virgin Mary, to whom they have entrusted the country, spared from the Second World War. The festival falls on February 4, but was celebrated on Sunday 7. Devotees tell  AsiaNews stories of graces received from Mary.


    11/02/2016 - VIETNAM

    Despite persecution, the desire for religious freedom is growing


    In a challenge to the authorities, an activist group, the Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty, releases a report on violations of religious freedom in 2014 and 2015 affecting Protestants, Catholics (Redemptorists, Sisters) and non-official Buddhists. The country’s proposed new religious legislation is criticised as a step backward in terms of freedom and rights.


    11/02/2016 - INDIA

    Rohan and Joel, signs of God's mercy for the poor in Mumbai

    by Nirmala Carvalho

    The two young men, one student and one worker have carried out corporal works of mercy, visiting a hospital and a nursing home for people with disabilities: "We were impressed by how much people are abandoned by society. They are part of our family". The visits are part of the activities that Opus Dei proposes every month, especially for the beginning of Lent, "a time of conversion and charity".

     


    11/02/2016 - INDIA

    Survivors of the Orissa pogroms in solidarity with persecuted Christians in Syria

    by Santosh Digal

    The survivors of the most ferocious massacre against the Christian community in India met for the first time. During the meeting they expressed solidarity with the suffering Christians in Syria and the Middle East. "As refugees, we can truly understand your pain." "The wave of violence directed at implementing an ethnic and religious cleansing against Yazidis and Christians is a crime against humanity."

     


    11/02/2016 - BANGLADESH

    Dhaka welcomes the new auxiliary bishop: A family dedicated to God

    by Sumon Corraya

    The Pope appointed Msgr. Francis Gomes Shorot Auxiliary of the archdiocese: his family are all consecrated to the Lord. The crucial example of his parents: "They always attended Mass and prayed the rosary, living a godly life that inspired us all."


    11/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Red Cross: 50 thousand civilians flee battle for Aleppo


    The escalation of the conflict has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. Much of the city is without water. The government army blocks supply routes to areas under siege, "enormous pressure" on civilians. MSF: health system near "total collapse". Kurdish fighters wrestle a military air base from militia.


    10/02/2016 - VATICAN

    For pope, “Lent should be a time of beneficial ‘pruning away’ of falsehood, worldliness, indifference”


    During Ash Wednesday Mass, Francis stressed states that at this liturgical time God invites us to "be reconciled" to Him and to "return" to Him "with your whole heart." After the service, the pope commissioned the Missionaries of Mercy to “open the doors of the heart, to overcome shame,” and not to “flee from the light”.


    10/02/2016 - SRI LANKA

    For UN Commissioner, Sri Lanka must defeats the demons of its past


    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein made a four-day visit to assess the progress of the war crimes investigation. During his stay, he met with politicians and civil society leaders. The main issues were political prisoners, internally displaced people, refugee camps, and civilian areas still under military control.


    10/02/2016 - PHILIPPINES

    Philippines presidential race kicks off with no single frontrunner


    On 9 May, 56 million Filipinos will elect their new president as well as local governors. Five candidates lead the pack for the office of president, including outgoing Vice President Binay, who has been accused of corruption, as well as two outsiders: iron fist Duterte, and rookie Grace Poe, whose right to run has been questioned.


    10/02/2016 - VIETNAM

    Tết in Saigon, where the Church helps poor students

    by Thanh Lan

    More than 10,000 students travelled north for the Lunar New Year holidays. However, many others could not afford the trip. Some stay at Emmanuel, a student residence set up by the Archdiocese four years ago for the most disadvantaged. Here free meals are available as are scholarships. "Since I came here, I have been able to share happiness and sadness with others,” said a Buddhist student.


    10/02/2016 - HONG KONG – CHINA – VATICAN

    Missionary of Mercy in Hong Kong, with an eye on China

    by Bernardo Cervellera

    The Holy Year of Mercy is an opportunity to rebuild relationships and ties with those who live faraway. Reconciliation with unlawful bishops will be difficult. Pope Francis would also like “to come to China." Protestants become Catholic to receive forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. A divided Hong Kong needs mercy.


    10/02/2016 - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    Sergei Chapnin: The Russian Orthodox Church in 2016. The problem of understanding and credibility. Part Three

    by Sergei Chapnin

    The attentive Russian analyst points to some contradictions enveloping the Patriarchate, unable to understand the situation of the poor and of Russian society. Another problem: the traditional "collegiality" has given way to a top-down management.
      

     


    10/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Vicar of Aleppo says Syrian people do not want war which is fomented by foreigners


    The regular army advances in the region. Thousands of civilians and militants in flight. For Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen Christian migrants are a resource "in pastoral and ecclesial service". He urges them to witness to the Gospel to Muslims, a mission "in the sign of the times." From the drama of the Christians to the miracle of the meeting between Francis and Kirill. Lent and the ecumenism of blood.


    10/02/2016 - CHINA

    Even in retirement, Communists “cannot take part in religious activities”


    The Communist Party’s Organisation Department, which controls the 88 million party personnel, issued new rules banning retired party members from engaging in religious activities. Politburo member Yu Zhengsheng called for “more effort in building a religious ideology with Chinese characteristics”.






    Editor's choices

    CHINA – VATICAN
    Global Times: the pope should accept the independence of the Chinese Church



    After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.


    INDIA – PHILIPPINES
    Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist



    Mgr Menamparampil is among the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. He was also a conflict mediator between various ethnic groups. He told AsiaNews about the value of the Congress for the Catholic Church in Asia and how people can bear witness the Gospel today, even amid tensions and violence of those who "hate us." "with the same pain in our hearts that we descend to our depths during a Eucharistic adoration."


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