CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 April 2019

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Jesus’ baptism site declared World Heritage

JERUSALEM (CNS): UNESCO has declared Bethany Beyond the Jordan, believed to be the site of the baptism of Jesus on the eastern side of the Jordan River, a World Heritage Site.

“The decision is logical. The eastern side is where all the Byzantine antiquities and churches are located,” Franciscan Father Eugenio Alliata, professor of Christian archaeology at the Jerusalem Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, commented.

He explained that pilgrimages to the western side began only about 600 years ago. “But for us it is the Jordan River, the middle, which is the most holy place.”

For years, Israel and Jordan have been at odds as to which side of the Jordan River is the actual site of Jesus’ baptism, as both sides vie for the title to increase tourism.

Three popes have visited Jordan’s eastern shore as a sign the Catholic Church officially recognises Bethany Beyond the Jordan.


Priest moved from prison for papal visit

PHILADELPHIA ( Monsignor William Lynn, a former official in Philadelphia archdiocese in the United States of America (US) and currently serving a prison term for endangering children, has been moved out of the jail that Pope Francis will visit during his September trip to the US.

His lawyer said on July 15 that Monsignor Lynn had been housed in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional, which is on the itinerary for the papal visit. But he has been transferred to a state prison.

Monsignor Lynn is appealing his conviction. 


Pope’s popularity drops in United States

WASHINGTON (SE): The popularity ratings of Pope Francis have dropped in the United States of America (US), a survey taken by Gallup reveals.

His popularity rating dropped from 76 per cent in 2014, to 59 per cent, roughly what it was when he was elected.

His initial good press in the US saw his popularity rise, but recently he has dropped out of favour both among Catholics and those who would be considered politically conservative.

Around 25 per cent say they have never heard of him, up 16 per cent since last year. However, Catholics still give him a 71 per cent popularity rating and political liberals 68 per cent.


Emirates rules against religious discrimination

ABU DHABI (AsiaNews): The United Arab Emirates announced new legislation imposing harsh sentences, including the death penalty, on crimes related to religious hatred on July 20.

A presidential decree by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, published on the official WAM news agency, criminalises any act that stirs religious hatred. It includes discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin. The law includes provisions for punishing the terming of any religious group or individual as an infidels or unbeliever.

Events organised with the sole purpose of sowing seeds of discrimination, discord or hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of faith, origin or race are barred.

Offences can attract a 10-year prison stretch or the death penalty. The crime is called Takfirism, or Sunni Muslim extremism.


Compensation sought from Bishop of Bling

LIMBURG (Agencies): The diocese of Limburg in Germany is seeking €3.9 million ($33.15 million) in compensation from Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst for additional costs related to renovations to the bishop’s residence.

Nicknamed the Gold-plated Bishop of Bling, the former bishop of the diocese resigned in 2014 amid controversy over US$34.2 million ($264.9 million) spent on upgrading the bishop’s residence. Deutsche Welle reported that the new costs have been incurred for “repair works and architects’ design plans that were not used in the end.”

Der Spiegel reported that a canon law process will determine whether the bishop, now an official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, is personally liable for the costs.


First woman diocesan bishop for Church of England

LONDON ( Reverend Rachel Treweek has become the first female diocesan bishop in the history of the Church of England. Earlier in the year, Reverend Libby Lane became the first woman ordained as a suffragan bishop—or auxiliary.

“I hope that women bishops will disturb us,” Anglican Bishop Adrian Newman said in his homily at the July 22 ceremony, which took place at Canterbury Cathedral. “I hope they will challenge the conventions of the Church of England, which continues to be led and directed by too many people like me: white, male, middle-aged professionals.”

He added, ”Every section of society, secular or religious, needs a way to allow nonconformity.”


The Guardian described Archbishop Justin Welby, from Canterbury, as beaming and reported that the cathedral rafters “rang with applause, whistling and whooping.”

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