February 2016

… and to dust you shall return
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

HONG KONG (SE): Lent began on Ash Wednesday with parishes around Hong Kong reporting good attendance at Masses for the traditional distribution of the ashes on February 10, despite being the last holiday for the beginning of the Year of the Monkey.

During the ceremony, ashes are placed in the sign of the cross on the forehead of each person, as the minister says, “Repent and believe in the gospel,” or the more...

Pope gets up Trump’s nose
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

WASHINGTON (SE): An age of derivative journalism has ensured that even the craziest kites flown by the Republican presidential candidate in the United States of America, Donald Trump, receive wide exposure in the skies of the whole world.

The latest tells how Pope Francis has got right up the nose of the flamboyant demagogue.

Politico reported on February 11 that the pope...

Papal sympathies to earthquake victims
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

Vatican (SE): In the wake of the tragic 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Tainan, Taiwan, on the weekend of February 6, a telegramme of condolence was sent on behalf of Pope Francis by Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

It said the pope was saddened at the suffering caused and sent his prayerful condolences to the families of the dead and the injured, as well as the rescue workers and civil...

What else dies with the peace process?
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

MARAWI (UCAN): Barely two years after the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace deal, the war-torn south of the nation continues to face the risk of massive displacement of people.

The failure of the House of Representatives to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law has dashed the hopes of people who have experienced centuries of armed struggle in defence of their homeland.

Clashes in Mong Kok
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

HONG KONG (SE): In the wake of violent clashes between local groups and the police in Mong Kok on the night of the Lunar New Year, February 8, which continued into the daylight hours of the following morning, the diocese of Hong Kong sent a notice to all parishes on February 11 saying that it does not believe that deep-seated social issues can be settled with violence.

“In no way can we justify any form of violence,...

China cranks up crackdown on critics
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

HONG KONG (SE): Three Chinese human rights campaigners, who were handed jail sentences on January 22 for publishing books on democracy and activism, are the latest victims of politically motivated national security charges used to silence government critics.

Amnesty International says in a report released on January 29 that two 44-year-olds, Tang Jingling and Yuan Xinting, together with 31-year-old Wang Qingying were...

Lenten appeal for children
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

MANILA (Agencies): In his pastoral letter for Ash Wednesday, the archbishop of Manila, Luis Cardinal Tagle, called for support for a Church-based feeding programme for the country’s malnourished children. This year’s target is to provide for 25,000 of them.

“It only takes 1,200 pesos ($198), or 10 pesos ($1.65) a day to bring back a hungry and malnourished child to a healthy state in six months,”...

A long-awaited embrace
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

HAVANA (SE): The embrace that Christianity has waited over 1,000 years to see became a reality on February 12 in a hangar at José Marti Airport in Havana, Cuba, as Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow put their arms around each other in a reconciliatory gesture.

The two described their historic greeting as an end to a millennium of division due to human weakness and sin, contradicting  Christ’s...

A lot more than monkey business
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

While a fireworks celebration was scheduled for the evening of the second day of the Lunar New Year on February 9, the real fireworks exploded some 24 hours earlier on the volatile streets of Mong Kok.

The no-holds-barred slug out between police and a local mob continued until the shadows lifted on a new day, leaving perplexed cleaners removing debris and an even more perplexed...

If you won’t vote for evil don’t vote at all
(Saturday, 20 February 2016 )

MANILA (UCAN): In responding to the widespread accusation that the upcoming May 9 presidential election in The Philippines is fielding such a poor crop of probable candidates that choosing one to work for the common good of the whole country may be a bit like choosing between the devil or the deep blue sea.

In a pastoral statement released on February 3, Being Eucharistic in Life and Deeds, the bishops say voters...