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» 12/19/2012
MALAYSIA - ISRAEL
Malaysia removes restrictions on Christian pilgrims to Holy Land
The ceiling on the number of pilgrims is removed; it was 700. The number of days is extended to 21 days from 7. Before, each Church could only bring f 40 people. For Catholic priest, the change brings happiness ahead of the festivity.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agenzie) - Malaysian authorities have lifted quotas and other restrictions on Christians who want to travel to Israel and the Holy Land. The decision was taken in November but was made public only as applications for travel to Jerusalem went up. It comes after a long feud between the government and minority Christians and might affect next year's election.

Predominantly Muslim Malaysia bars travel to Israel but the government has previously allowed Christians to travel to the historic city regarded as holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

According to the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), the government imposed a quota of 700 pilgrims per year, with any one church only allowed to send a group of 40.

But a letter sent from Prime Minister Najib Razak's office to CFM president Ng Moon Hing on 28 November said these limits no longer applied save that visits could be for a maximum 21 days.

Following the controversy over the use of Allah also for the Christian God, a case decided in Christians' favour in court, Malaysia's Christian minority has had to face a period of difficulties, tensions and violence, including attacks against its churches and buildings.

With restrictions gone, some peace of mind has come to them on the eve of Christmas celebrations.

"We are grateful we can once again go to worship in the Holy Land," said Fr Lawrence Andrew, former Herald Malaysia editor of Malaysia's only Catholic weekly.


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See also
07/13/2010 HOLY LAND
More pilgrimages to the Holy Land “due to pilgrims from Asia,” says Fr Pizzaballa
08/23/2005 HOLY LAND
Eastern Churches react positively to the election of Teophilus
by Jihad Issa
09/13/2004 ISRAEL - VATICAN
Interior Minister Poraz to visit Vatican tomorrow
03/24/2005 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
by Bernardo Cervellera
04/21/2011 HOLY LAND
The Churches of the Holy Land: reform must lead to freedom for religious minorities

Editor's choices
ASIA
Vigil for persecuted Christians, our teachers in the mission in the West
by Bernardo CervelleraThe "wall of indifference and cynicism" and the silence and apathy so often denounced by Pope Francis have become almost a fortress. Such persecution reflects confessional manipulation, which slams Islam as such, and ideological manipulation, which forgets what is happening in North Korea or China. An increasingly post-Christian Europe seems disinterested in Christians.
RUSSIA – CHINA
Moscow Patriarchate: China authorises the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory
by Marta AllevatoMetropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate’s ‘foreign minister’, made the announcement after a visit to China where he met the leaders of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The first priest should serve in Harbin. Two more ordinations are expected. With a new Cold War as the background, the Moscow-Beijing strategic alliance also has a Church connection with the People's Republic recognising the latter’s 'political' role in Russia.
VATICAN
Pope: We and the four new saints, witnesses of the Resurrection "where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident "Francis proclaims four religious sisters saints: one French, one Italian, two Palestinians: Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, the foundress of the Sisters of the Rosary, and the Carmelite Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Maria Bawardy). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority present. "Abiding in Christ" and cultivating “unity among us" are essential signs of witness. Maria Bawardy, "instrument of encounter and communion with the Muslim world".

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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