09/21/2014ALBANIA - VATICAN Pope tells representatives of religions that religious freedom is bulwark against all forms of totalitarianism Pope Francis met with Muslims, Bektashi (Sufi), Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical and Jewish representatives, advocating working together for the common good and dialogue. The latter should not be centre on relativism, but on retaining one's own identity, without hypocrisy. Tirana
- Religious freedom, which Albania regained after the period of Communist dictatorship, is good not only for believers, but for society as a whole,
a bulwark against all forms of totalitarianism,
09/21/2014ALBANIA - VATICAN "Today we touched martyrs," a moved Pope Francis said in front of two who witnessed persecution Pope Francis put aside his prepared speech and said the homily off the cuff after he heard the stories of a priest who was tortured and imprisoned during Albania's Maoist dictatorship and a nun who was subjected to forced labour, both of whom kept their faith and support that of others. Consecrated persons are consoled only by God and are thus able to console others.
09/20/2014VATICAN - CHINA Pope wishes Chinese bishops "were here", tells them they are not alone, that they have his solidarity and that of the Church In his meeting with newly appointed bishops from around the world, in Rome for a seminar organised by Propaganda Fide, Francis devoted part of his address to the pastors of the Chinese flock. "Deep down in my heart, I hope" they were here, "that that day will not be far off! Let me assure them not only of my and our solidarity, but also that of the world's Episcopate, so that, in the shared faith and despite sometimes the impression of being alone, they can feel the certainty that their suffering will bear fruit - and what fruit! - for the good of the faithful, their fellow citizens and the whole Church."
09/20/2014ASIA - ITALY Mission congress: nine missionaries to follow PIME founder Angelo Ramazzotti by Bernardo Cervellera PIME's superior general launches a year dedicated to the society's founder. Bishop of Pavia and then Patriarch of Venice, he corresponds to Pope Francis' role mode for a pastor. The missionary men and women leaving for Cameroon, Mexico, Brazil, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Bangladesh, including two Colombian priests associated with the PIME, will receive a crucifix as a "companion" for their apostolic activity.
09/19/2014PHILIPPINES Over 50 thousand flee flooding in Manila, schools and offices closed The heavy rains caused by tropical storm Fung-Wong have paralyzed the capital. 268 mm of rain, 76% of the monthly average fell in a few hours. More rain predicted. 21 domestic flights canceled, some international routes diverted. So far, no deaths or injuries.
09/18/2014VIETNAM Saigon, government threatens to demolish Catholic churches and Buddhist temples A development plan for an area south of Ho Chi Minh City includes the demolition of places of worship. The Inter-religious Council has launched a petition to stop the project. According to the urban development plan the area is zoned for housing and shopping malls, but not places of worship. A nun: "The government wants to drive us out."
09/18/2014INDONESIA - ISLAM Yogyakarta: Catholic university cancels seminar on homosexuality after Islamist threats by Mathias Hariyadi The Sanata Dharma (Usd) psychology department was to hold a meeting on the theme: "LGBTI: We are different, we are unique and we are One". The local branch of the Islamic Society Forum forced it to be cancelled because it "dishonors Islam." Islamic leader claims "deviant" sexual behavior is a "contagious virus".
09/18/2014MYANMAR Archbishop of Yangon: human trafficking, "a hell that shames Myanmar" by Francis Khoo Thwe Msgr. Charles Bo lashes out against this modern form of slavery, particularly widespread in South-East Asia. The Burmese dictatorship created a "nation of the Exodus" and the current government also shows nothing but "indifference". Harsh accusations against China and its one-child policy, the cause of an "abominable" trafficking.
09/17/2014LAOS Laos follows China's example to curb NGOs Like mainland China, Laos plans to restrict foreign donations and place non-governmental organisations under Foreign Ministry control, raising concerns among NGOs and Western diplomats.
09/17/2014INDONESIA - ISLAM Jakarta: As his term in office ends President Yudhoyono attacks Islamic terrorism by Mathias Hariyadi The outgoing leader, one month ahead of the handover, promotes an all-out struggle against extremist cells and movements. Increased controls in passports and visas, to limit enrollments in the Islamic State. More attention to sensitive areas and prisons. International pressure behind the change of course.