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Asylum seekers swamp catechumenate in Austria

VIENNA (SE): Of the 300 adults that entered the catechumenate in Austria last year, 70 per cent were refugees seeking asylum, a report from the Austrian bishops’ news agency said on May 25.

In a new document on the catechumenate, the Austrian Bishops’ Conference is proposing a model for the catechumenate that includes the proclamation of the gospel, a year-long period of learning more about the faith, and six weeks of preparation for the sacraments of initiation.

Warning of the possibility of insincere conversions, the document stresses the importance of discerning the motives of all those entering the catechumenate.


New brotherhood in Syria

ERBIL (AsiaNews): Father Samir Youssef, from Amadiya in Kurdistan, says that over time, the Islamic State has quelled a lot of political divisions and partisan interests, as the mutual threat it provides has created a new sense of brotherhood among people.

He said that in the past, people lived side by side, but today, refugees have a new desire for community, which is expressed not only in what they do, but also what they say.

He said that it is not only among young people and children, but also among adults who have overcome their initial distrust.

He believes it is the result of the Church being open to help anyone in need, irrespective of race, creed or social status.


Mass kidnap

MEXICO CITY (SE): When people are being kidnapped out of a church during Mass in his diocese, Bishop Eduardo Patiño Leal believes that things in the Mexican port city of Veracruz have indeed reached rock bottom.

The bishop told Fides that he believes that because the kidnapping took place in a consecrated place during a celebration of the Eucharist, it is an attack on the whole community, a desecration of a holy place and an affront to every citizen.


Theme for next World Meeting of Families

VATICAN (SE): The gospel of family, joy for the world has been named as the theme for the Ninth World Meeting of Families scheduled to take place in Dublin, Ireland, in August 2018.

“Hopefully it will be an important milestone in the application of the fruit of the synodal process and of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love),” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, from Dublin, said at a press conference in the Vatican on May 24.

He explained that in the light of the recent findings from the Synod on the Family, Church programmes need a complete overhaul.

It is strongly rumoured that Pope Francis will attend.


Pope invited to Belarus

MOSCOW (SE): During a visit to the Vatican on May 21, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, told Pope Francis that the time has come for him to visit his country in the company of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

He urged the pope to join the patriarch for a meeting dedicated to the Minsk-Two Agreements on peace in the Ukraine, which have yet to be properly implemented.

BelITA quoted the president as saying, “I suggested that it was time that the pope come to Belarus to meet our citizens together with our patriarch.”

He added that more than one million people would like to see them shake hands at home, not in faraway Cuba in an obscure airport.


First Singapore
president to meet pope 

SINGAPORE (AsiaNews): Tony Tan Keng Yam became the first head of state from Singapore to meet a pope in the Vatican on May 29.

Tan’s visit was described as significant. “We are fortunate to be held in high regard and receive great support from the government,” the archdiocese of Singapore said in a statement.

“Prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who received a Catholic education, said that the Church has always played an important role in Singapore society, running schools, hospitals, homes and charities that serve citizens of every race and religion,” the statement noted.


Vatican signs with the Congo

VATICAN (SE): Representatives of the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo signed a framework agreement at the Apostolic Palace on May 20.

The Holy See has had diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1977.

The Holy See Press Office says, “It establishes the legal position of the Catholic Church in the civil sphere and its freedom in apostolic activity and in the regulation of matters within its competence.”

The 21-point agreement touches on education, charitable activities, military and prison chaplaincies, property and taxation, and visas for missionaries.


Fifty-three per cent of the nation’s 81.7 million people are Catholic; approximately 30 per cent Protestant and 10 per cent are Muslim.

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