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11 February 2016
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    11/02/2016 - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    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.


    by Ieromonaco Ioann

    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 - 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.


    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 - 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."


    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”.


    10/02/2016 - TAIWAN

    Search for Tainan quake survivors continues amid hope and despair

    by Xin Yage

    Four days after the earthquake 219 people extracted alive from the rubble; 46 confirmed dead; 94 are still missing. Engineer and two employees arrested for having built collapsed complex without the necessary safety standards. Population and security teams dig amid despair and hope.

     


    10/02/2016 - IRAN

    Iran’s Guardian Council approves hundreds of reformist candidates ahead of elections


    The constitutional body readmits 1,400 people at first excluded. The final list of candidates published on February 16, vote scheduled for February 26. The number allowed run rises to 6185 (including 586 women) out of 12 thousand requests. President Rouhani hopes for a moderate reformist victory and to continue the policy of openness and renewal.


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN

    For pope, the Missionaries of Mercy should bear witnesses of how God loves and forgives


    “[W]e are called to be the living expression of the Church that, as a mother, welcomes anyone who approaches her,” said the pontiff. “Being a confessor in accordance with Christ’s heart is like covering a sinner’s heart with the blanket of mercy, so that he or she may not feel ashamed anymore and regain the joy of their filial dignity". Sadly, “One can do a lot of harm to a soul if it is not accepted as by a father, as by a mother Church."


    09/02/2016 - KOREA-VATICAN

    Korean missionaries: God's mercy will be a balm for Asia


    A group of priests from  Daejeon Diocese will be sent from Rome by Pope Francis as the instrument of God's love.  They explain to AsiaNews: "Many people in our country, leave the Church because they feel unsuited to the Christian life because of their sins. We want to remind everyone that the real name of Christ is love ". Their bishop, Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik: "We all have to be missionaries of forgiveness."

     


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN – CHINA

    The Missionaries of Mercy and China’s unlawful bishops

    by Bernardo Cervellera

    The mandate of the Missionaries of Mercy also covers China, where excommunicated bishops could be readmitted. Yet, this would be difficult to do because it would require a public statement that Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association would slam as “Vatican meddling in China's internal affairs". Likewise, "sinicisation" would bring the risk of dividing the Church even more.


    09/02/2016 - RUSSIA – VATICAN

    Sergei Chapnin: The Russian Orthodox Church in 2016, and its economic failures (Part Two)

    by Sergei Chapnin

    Like the rest of Russian society, the Church too is in recession, suffering from financial losses and bank closures. Problems afflict the monasteries of Trinity-St Sergius Lavra and St Daniel. Lack of financial transparency is an issue whilst parishes are reduced to poverty. A gap exists in the lifestyle of city and country priests.


    09/02/2016 - PAKISTAN

    A ‘water man’ discriminated in high school because he is Christian and should not give water to students

    by Shafique Khokhar

    Qaisar Jahan began to work at the MC Girls High School in Faisalabad in November 2015 bringing water to students. When the headmistress found out that he was a Christian, she told him to do the janitorial work and not deliver water. He refused saying, “I shall not bend in front of this kind of people”.


    09/02/2016 - INDIA

    Rising violence against Christians in Uttar Pradesh ahead of state elections

    by Nirmala Carvalho

    The state’s legislative assembly is set for renewal next year. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, acts of violence and incidents of discrimination against the Christian minority have reached a crescendo. A pastor and two worshipers have been arrested in Noida. The pastor of the Mission India Church was held for hours without charges along with 20 other religious leaders in Robertsganj.


    09/02/2016 - IRAQ

    Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad: Christian properties targeted by criminals, government and police weak


    Msgr. Warduni confirms reports of "gangs and militias" responsible for attacks and expropriation of houses, commercial, cultural and religious sites. A milieu of groups that operate by exploiting the inertia of the authorities and the institutions and target Christians, Muslims, Yazidis. They are acting for money and are a concern. UN blue helmets to ensure the unity of Iraq.


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: The confessor who feels himself to be a sinner is man of forgiveness, reconciliation


    "Forgiveness is a seed, God’s caress".  When a person approaches the confessional: "it is because he or she feels something weighing them down and wants to be freed", they may not know how to say it, but "tell them with gesture to come closer." "There is no need to ask questions."


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN

    "Missionaries of Mercy" will have faculty to absolve "most grave" sins


    Tomorrow Francis will grant them the authority to forgive those who steal consecrated hosts, use violence against the Pope, absolve an accomplice, illegitimately ordain a bishop, attempt to ordain a woman, violate the secrecy of the conclave, and even those who are complicit in an abortion or commit acts of pedophilia.


    09/02/2016 - ISRAEL -PALESTINE

    Knesset approves law on NGO monitoring. Targets groups critical of occupation in the Palestinian Territories


    The text is passed at first reading, with 50 votes in favor and 43 against. Now it must pass a second and third step, prior to final approval. Critics say it affects the leftist movements struggling against the occupation in the territories and violence against Palestinians. For the government needed to fight against foreign interference.


    09/02/2016 - HONG KONG

    Police open fire, hawkers launch bottles in Mong Kok fish ball revolution

    by Paul Wang

    The clashes erupted after police intervened to clear the traditional Hong Kong street food vendors. 24 people arrested, including members of anti-China groups. Police accused of using too much violence.

     


    08/02/2016 - INDIA

    For Indian cloistered nuns, the Consecrated are a pledge of God’s love for the world


    Religious from various congregations accepted the invitation from Sister Gemma, prioress of the monastery of Baroda, to celebrate together the end of the Year of Consecrated life. Such a meeting is very important “in a world threatened by terrorism, greed, and from offences to human life”. The various participants renewed the vows to their orders. “It was a great joy to witness so much brotherly love and unity from the various religious congregations."






    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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