March 2018

No Holy Week for Marawi
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

MANILA (UCAN): There will be no Holy Week observance this year in Marawi, Mindanao, almost a year after Islamic State-inspired gunmen occupied the southern Philippine city on May 23 last year.
St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was desecrated and burned at the height of the five-month conflict that ended in October, remains closed.
This will be the first time that Holy Week has not been celebrated in the predominantly Muslim city, where more than 300,000...

Archbishop condemns Polish government stance on refugees
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

WARSAW (CNS): Archbishop Henryk Muszynski, the former archbishop of Gniezno, accused his country’s government of falsifying its data on refugees, while also fuelling a crisis with Germany over new demands for war reparations.
The archbishop said the government often states that it would not take refugees from Africa because it helped Ukrainians and Middle East refugees. He was speaking amid controversy over the Polish government’s refusal to offer shelter to...

Vatican communications prefect resigns
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

VATICAN (CNS): After a very public controversy involving the use of a letter by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Monsignor Dario Vigano as prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication in March 21.
The controversy began on March 12 at the presentation of The Theology of Pope Francis, an 11-volume series of books (Sunday Examiner, March 18), when Monsignor Vigano read selected sentences from a letter from Pope...

New president voted in for Myanmar following resignation
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

Mandalay (UCAN): Former speaker of the lower house of Myanmar’s parliament, Win Myint, was elected as a vice-president in the first step in his expected ascension to the presidency of the troubled nation on March 23.
The lower house, dominated by State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), voted 273-27 in favour of Myint in a ballot also contested by a candidate from the military-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party....

Indonesian students go to court over criticism law
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

Jakarta (UCAN):  The Indonesian Catholic Student Association has joined rights groups in filing for a judicial review with the Constitutional Court of a newly introduced law criminalising criticism of Indonesia’s parliament and its members on March 21.
The association questioned a provision in the law—which came into effect on March 15—that says parliament’s ethics council can take legal action against those who “disrespect the dignity...

Philippine bishops back migrant rights deal with Kuwait
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

Manila (UCAN): The Philippine bishops’ Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People is pressing the county’s government to ensure that a deal about to be struck with Kuwait guaranteeing protection for Filipino workers, most of whom are domestic helpers, is adhered to.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the commission, said the government should see to it that the provisions in the proposed deal are implemented.

Indonesia to improve education in Christian-majority regions
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

Jakarta (UCAN): Indonesia will focus on improving the quality of education provided in the Christian-led provinces of Papua, West Papua and East Nusa Tenggara, in cooperation with local Churches, minister of Education and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy, said on March 21.
The three provinces consistently rank at the bottom of the table in terms of education among the country’s 34 provinces.
“We still face huge challenges, especially in (improving)...

Philippine senators vow to axe divorce bill
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

MANILA (UCAN): “In effect it is dead,” Panfilo Lacson, a Philippine senator said, commenting on a bill that would legalise divorce in the predominantly Catholic country.
“We are a Catholic country and we are not ready for (divorce),” Lacson said.
Several of the country’s senators have vowed to kill the bill, which passed the Lower House of Congress this week. The bill must now go through the Senate before it can be signed...

Fiftieth anniversary of massacre that triggered war in Mindanao
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

MANILA (UCAN): Filipino advocates marked the 50th anniversary of the 18 March 1968 massacre of Muslim commandos reportedly trained by the government of then-president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, to wreak havoc in Sabah, Malaysia in the 1960s.
At a forum in Manila last week, historians and academics called the incident one of the “heinous crimes of the dictatorship” against the Moro people.
“It signifies the cycle of events of...

Around the Traps
(Saturday, 31 March 2018 )

Taiwanese ambassador to Holy See awarded papal knighthood
Hong Kong (UCAN): The Vatican has bestowed a papal knighthood on Matthew Lee, Taiwan’s ambassador to the Holy See at a ceremony on March 15, in recognition of his diplomatic work.
Lee was awarded the Knight Grand Cross, which is the second class of five orders of knighthood founded by Pope Pius IX in 1847. The honour is typically awarded to ambassadors to the Holy See.