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.
09/20/2014TURKEY - IRAQ - SYRIA Islamic State releases Turkish hostages seized in Mosul Nothing is known about the three Iraqis abducted with the Turks. Some suspect a bargain between Turkey and the Islamic State. Ankara refuses military support for US-led coalition. Syrian Kurdish refugees are allowed in after Turkish Kurds protest. Kerry shows flexibility on Iran in the fight against Islamic State. UN Security Council adopts a statement of support for the new Iraqi government and calls on the international community to fight Islamic State terrorism.
09/20/2014CHINA Chinese authorities tear down two Catholic churches Located in different provinces, the places of worship stood on land slated for commercial development and were torn down on the same day. A third church had its cross removed. In the case of the church in Jinxi (Hunan), the priest tried to stop the demolition but was arrested. The priest of the Church of Our Lady in Jingdezhen (Jiangxi) was tricked into leaving before the bulldozers got to work. The watchman was abducted and released only after the church was levelled.
09/20/2014UKRAINE - RUSSIA Ukrainian Orthodox parishes leaving Moscow Patriarchate for Kyiv by Nina Achmatova According to reports from the Ukrainian Church-Kyiv Patriarchate, at least a dozen congregations have opted to switch with local media reporting that the shift is due to the reluctance of the clergy and faithful to accept the support of the Russian Patriarchate for the Kremlin's policies.
09/19/2014BHUTAN Protestant pastors convicted of "attempted proselytising" in Bhutan The two were sentenced for engaging in "unauthorised fundraising" and organising a meeting for the purpose of worship "without the necessary permits". The authorities repeatedly changed the charges during the trial. There is no substantial evidence of guilt. This story is but another example of religious freedom violation and persecution of the Christian minority.
09/19/2014SRI LANKA Card Ranjith: Joseph Vaz as saint, a missionary example for the Church in Sri Lanka The archbishop of Colombo tells AsiaNews that he hopes to see Pope Francis celebrate the canonisation during his visit next January to the former Ceylon. "In the chocking effect of secularism and religious indifferentism, the life of the blessed will be a strong indication for our people of where our options ought to be.
09/19/2014RUSSIA - UKRAINE The challenge of winter in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict by Vladimir Rozanskij The United States and European sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions damage the economy on both sides. The shortage of gas in Ukraine and in the pro-Russian areas will test ideological leanings. The signs of the end of globalization, with the growth of localism, the risk of the West’s demise and religious fundamentalism.
09/19/2014IRAQ Mosul, the Islamic State "bans Christians from school" Archbishop Nona tells AsiaNews, an entire "generation is in danger of not being educated". The schools turned into shelters, cannot accommodate lessons. The Church is racing against the clock to find housing, but only a fraction of the institutions will be able to resume activities. In the city and Nineveh plain population is increasingly hostile to the Islamist militias, 98% want "their expulsion."