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15 February 2016
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    14/02/2016 - MEXICO – VATICAN

    The pope celebrated Mass in Ecatepec, one of Mexico City’s big suburbs, on the first Sunday of Lent. Speaking to hundreds of thousands of people, Francis stressed the importance of Lent as the "favorite moment" to drive away the evil one’s temptations.




    14/02/2016 - MEXICO – VATICAN

    Pope: The tears of those who suffer are not in vain, for Mary protects us, always


    Celebrating Mass at the Marian Shrine of Guadalupe, the largest in the world, Francis mentioned the "preferential option" for the Virgin, who appears to Little Juan "not against anyone but rather in favour of everyone.” He calls on people to “be my ambassador by walking along the paths of your neighbourhood” to “build shrines”.


    13/02/2016 - MEXICO – VATICAN

    Pope in Mexico: Church and society must seek the common good, not privileges


    During his meetings with Mexican authorities and bishops, Francis paid tribute to ‘la Morenita’. Drug trafficking represents "a moral and anti-social challenge” for Mexican society as a whole, including the Church. Pastors should "show a singular tenderness” for "indigenous peoples and their fascinating but not infrequently decimated cultures”. The pontiff calls for communion with the North American episcopate to help migrants “keep alive the roots of the faith [. . .], as well as the motivation for their hope and the power of their charity.”


    13/02/2016 - RUSSIA – VATICAN

    The historic and somewhat surreal meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill

    by Vladimir Rozanskij

    The leaders of two hieratic religious traditions hugged in a bare "Soviet" atmosphere, sterilised from the presence of people, but with dignitaries, politicians and journalists. The Joint Declaration contains important points, and sets the stage for missionary work for the coming centuries. Putin overshadows the Syrian issue. Kirill wins over Uniatism and Ukraine. However, the real world will be the test of the agreement.


    13/02/2016 - PAKISTAN

    Lahore: activists from all religions on hunger strike against terrorism

    by Kamran Chaudhry

    Protesters slam the government’s inability to fight Islamic extremism. “Despite government denials, there is evidence that Daesh is active in Pakistan. Banned organisations still operate freely in Punjab." After the National Action Plan was adopted, the legal system was not reformed. Military source blames “hostile intelligence agencies” for terrorism.


    13/02/2016 - VIETNAM

    Toan, 17, looks after the remains of aborted babies in a Hanoi cemetery


    For a year and a half, the young man has buried foetuses in Hanoi’s Soc Son district. Parents and doctors from nearby hospitals bring some 20 to 30 every day. For him aborted babies "are human beings and have the right to be buried in a dignified manner”. Vietnam is the first country in South-East Asia and the fifth in the world for the number of abortions.


    13/02/2016 - INDONESIA

    UN award proposed for Aceh fishermen who saved sea migrants


    The Geutanyoe Foundation has named fishermen from the Indonesian province for the Nansen Refugee Award. The UNCHR awards the prize each year for action on behalf of refugees and displaced people. Last year, the fishermen saved scores of Rohingya and Bangladeshis drifting on boats in the high seas.


    13/02/2016 - SAUDI ARABIA

    Saudi water resources at risk, to run out in 13 years


    King Faisal University raises the alarm. Groundwater will be used up in just over a decade, leaving the country high and dry. Gulf States have the largest per capita gap between renewable water supply and demand. Aquifer depletion is already visible.


    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 - 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 - 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.
     


    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 - CUBA – VATICAN – ORTHODOX

    Francis-Kirill meeting in Cuba: “Finally! We are brothers. We have everything in common”


    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.


    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 - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    Francis and Kirill, a meeting that has many political and faith based reasons (I)

    by Ieromonaco Ioann

    After centuries of waiting, a week after the announcement, the dream of John Paul II and Benedict XVI will become a reality. Among the reasons for the meeting, the Patriarchate emphasizes the defense of persecuted Christians by Islamic fundamentalism and the widespread secularization even in the Protestant world. An alliance "against". There are also "political" reasons: preparations for the pan-Orthodox Synod and the indirect blessing of Putin. Conservative fringes of the Patriarchate are against "minimalist" meeting. First part of an analysis by a personality of the Moscow Patriarchate.


    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.






    Editor's choices

    CUBA – VATICAN – ORTHODOX
    Francis-Kirill meeting in Cuba: “Finally! We are brothers. We have everything in common”



    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".


    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.


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