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Peres meets with pope

VATICAN (CWN): Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel, met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 21.

The 92-year-old Israeli politician issued a statement after his visit saying that he had thanked the pope for his friendship toward Israel.

“Nothing is greater than the cause of friendship among human beings,” Peres said.


North Korean refugees baptised in Seoul

SEOUL (UCAN): Sixty refugees from North Korea were baptised in Seoul on June 18.

Belonging to a wide range of age groups, all had spent the mandatory three months at a re-orientation centre in Hanawon, where they receive help in adjusting to a different type of society.

Protestant, Catholic and Buddhist groups have access to the centre and hold regular services and offer food.

“Everyone here has wounds and pain. You came a long way and now you are newly born in God who cares and loves you endlessly. I wish you all a new happy life,” Father Raymond Lee Jong-nam said at the baptism.

Father Lee has worked with refugees for many years.

Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jong, from Seoul, sent rosaries and a message saying,  “I can only give them all the love I can give like a father and wish they live happy lives.”


Equating love of party and religion

HONG KONG (UCAN): Plans to demolish residences at a historic Buddhist monastery in Sichuan has been described as part of a broader trend to control Tibetan Buddhism.

Human Rights Watch claims that a demolition order on Larung Gar Buddhist Academy corresponds with a major drive to impose stronger control over religion in Tibetan and Sichuan.

A June 21 report says that a senior provincial official toured Tibetan areas waring against illegal, extremist and infiltrative religious activities, and calling on officials to strengthen ideological education to remove the distinction between love of the Communist Party and Buddhism.


Some 1,500 Filipinos to World Youth Day

MANILA (UCAN): Some 1,500 young Filipinos are expected to attend World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, the home of Pope John Paul II who initiated the gathering in 1985.

“I guess all I really want is for the Lord to surprise me. I’m not expecting anything in particular, but I just want to see Jesus there in Poland,” a 27-year-old industrial designer, Johann Mangussad, said.

The Polish embassy in Manila said it has already received at least 2,200 intentions for visa application.

World Youth Day will run from July 26 to 31. A few days before leaving, the delegation will meet for a preparatory session.


Bishops’ message for soccer championship

PARIS (CWN): Wishing soccer fans moments of peaceful joy, the French bishops issued a message on June 15 as the nation opens its doors to the 24 teams competing in the quadrennial European championship.

They welcomed visitors to the churches in the host cities and praised the championship as an occasion of solidarity and communion, while calling upon players to avoid unduly rough play and spectators to fraternise with all, so that adversaries may become friends.


Indonesia fires on Chinese fishing boat

JAKARTA (AsiaNews): Beijing is accusing Indonesia of firing at one of its fishing boats on June 17 near the Natuna Islands off the coast of Borneo in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims that one person was wounded and others arrested. The Indonesian Navy said it had fired shots at several boats with Chinese flags, but added that no one was wounded.

Although China recognises that the islands are Indonesian, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, claims the boat was in traditional fishing grounds.


Filipino new bishop in Saipan

MANILA (SE): Dumaguete City-born Father Ryan Jimenez has been appointed the next bishop of Chalan Kanoa in Saipan, the largest island in the Northern Marianas.

CBCP News reported on June 24 that he will become the second bishop of the diocese for which he was ordained in 2003. He has been the administrator since the retirement of the former bishop in 2010.

The 44-year old bishop-elect did a bachelor of arts degree at Ateneo de Manila University before going to Saipan in 1997. He completed his studies for priesthood in California, as well as a master’s in theology.

His ordination is scheduled for August 14.

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