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Vietnam moves to seize monastery land

HANOI (AsiaNews): Police raided the monastery of Thien An in Hue province on June 26 as part of a series of moves to seize Church property.

Abbot Nguyen Van Duc protested, saying the government bid for the 100-acre property is based on a unilateral decree dating back to 1998, which is illegal.

Last year, local officials prevented a roof from being put on an outdoor shrine, saying the construction was illegal. Since then, the monastery has been subjected to periodic police raids.


Promoting a culture of life in Korea

SEOUL (UCAN): Thirty-three Catholic members of the South Korean congress launched the Respect Life Forum on July 4 to spread a culture of life in society.

Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, from Seoul, said at a Mass to mark the occasion, “I hope you Catholic lawmakers can revise laws that are on a collision course with the principle of the sacredness of life.”

The forum says that the constitution guarantees the inviolable rights of human beings and that the government should protect all forms of human life, including unborn embryos.

Its activities will include revising laws related to respect for life and education for young people.


House Church move

HONG KONG (UCAN): A House Church was forced out of its rented premises in Guangdong after its lease was terminated under pressure from the government.

China Aid, a Christian not-for-profit group in the United States of America, reported on July 8 that Ma Chao, who was in charge of the Church, said in a report that disagreements with government led to the closure of the Church.

China Aid said police had inspected the premises last month and said it had to close because it was unregistered and fire safety was a problem.


Mother Teresa to
be canonised

KOLKATA (SE): Around 350 people from Kolkata in India plan to travel to Rome for the canonisation of Mother Teresa on September 4, The Times of India reported on July 11.

The superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Perma, together with Archbishop Thomas D’Sousa are among the official delegation of around 200 people.

The delegation, including the chief minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, will join about 150 people from Kolkata attending the ceremony and take part in a short pilgrimage.

“I have grown up idolising Mother and would often follow her to Nirmal Hriday in Kalighat, which is close to where I live,” Rumila Mukherjee told the Indian daily.


New point man for Vatican media office

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis has named an American, Greg Burke, as the director of the Holy See Press Office, effective from August 1.

Burke will succeed 73-year-old Father Federico Lombardi sj, who has been in the position since 2006.

The 56-year-old is a veteran journalist, having worked with UPI, Reuters, the National Catholic Register, TIME Magazine and Fox News before becoming senior communications adviser to the Vatican secretariat of state in 2012.

He is a numerary of Opus Dei and has worked at the Holy See Press Office since February 1. Father Lombardi’s predecessor, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, was also a numerary of Opus Dei.

A 40-year-old Spanish radio journalist and Vatican correspondent since 2012, Paloma García Ovejero, will be Burke’s second in command. 


Aleppo parish programmes closed

ALEPPO (CWN): Bombing and artillery strikes in the Syrian city of Aleppo have forced a suspension of all activities except the sacraments.

The apostolic vicar, Bishop George Abou Khazen, reported that heavy shelling on July 11 impacted on Church offices—although fortunately there were no casualties.

He added summer recreational and educational programmes had been stopped and “the church will only stay open so that the faithful can come and pray or attend services.”

He described the level of violence as really frightening, calling it bombing of defenseless civilians.


Chinese bible publisher reaches 150 million mark

HONG KONG (SE): The world’s largest bible publisher located in Jiangsu, China, has reached the 150 million copies mark. The Beijing-based China Christian Daily said on July 12 that since its founding in 1988, the Amity Printing Company has produced bibles in 90 languages to be sold in 70 countries.





Charges brought in priest shooting case

DHAKA (UCAN): A district court in Bangladesh accepted a police charge against seven Islamist militants on July 16 suspected of shooting 64-year-old Father Piero Parolari last year.

This marks the formal beginning of procedures against those charged from the Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh.

Four of the suspects have been arrested and police are confident of arresting the other three. Father Parolari, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was shot on November 18 in Dinajpur, while he was riding a bicycle.

He recovered from his wounds and is now staying in Dhaka.


Tortured Maid employer loses appeal

HONG KONG (SE): The convicted employer of Indonesian domestic worker, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, better known as the Tortured Maid, lost a bid in the Court of Appeal to clear her name and gain access to legal aid on June 7.

Forty-four-year-old Law Wan-tung got six years prison after being found guilty of physically abusing Sulistyaningsih and a former employee, Tutik Lestari Ningsih. She was found guilty on 18 out of 20 charges that were brought against her.

Law said that the trial judge, Amanda Woodcock, had failed to note discrepancies in the prosecution case, but the court said Woodcock had noted them and said they did not destroy the veracity of the prosecution.

Law has since been warned to stop appealing or her sentence may be increased.


Sri Lanka may get homegrown saint

COLOMBO (UCAN): The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced that a layperson, commonly known as Sister Helena, has been declared a servant of God, putting her in line to become Sri Lankan’s first homegrown saint.

Father Chaminda Fernando said, “Sister Helena… is revered in this area.”

She is also reported to have had the stigmata.

Born in a remote village in Gonawila sometime in 1848, she died on 8 February 1931.

She joined an institute of pious laywomen to help in her parish in 1868.

St. Joseph Vaz is the island nation’s first saint, but he was from Goa, arriving in Sri Lanka in 1687.


Ireland votes against abortion

DUBLIN (CNS): Ireland has rejected a bid to allow legal abortion in cases of fatal fœtal abnormality.

A bill was defeated 85 to 45 in a vote in the Dail on July 7, keeping the nation’s constitutional protection of the right to life of unborn children intact.

Health minister, Simon Harris, argued against the proposed legislation, saying, “If a fœtus has the capacity to be born, it has the protection of the constitution.”

The attorney general had found the proposed legislation unconstitutional, but the government has indicated a willingness to challenge the constitution on the subject of abortion by not publicising the judgement.


Mixed reaction to court ruling

HONG KONG (SE): In seeking to allay fears, Philippine Bishop Ruperto Santos said, “We don’t think there’s cause for alarm (over the South China Sea).”

However, a Filipino resident of Hong Kong was surprised on July 15 when a travel agency where she was applying for a visa to China, where she has been studying for almost seven months, said it may well be refused.

“We can try,” the travel agent said. “But I really do not know where the wind is blowing.”

Meanwhile, the Philippine Consulate General to Hong Kong said that it has had no reports of harassment of its citizens since the ruling was announced.


World Youth Day snag

MANILA (Agencies): Over 100 delegates from The Philippines to World Youth Day got off to a bad start when their flight out of Manila was cancelled on July 16 due to the attempted coup d’état in Turkey.

CBCP News reported that the group had booked on a 9.30pm Turkish Airlines flight, which was cancelled. They then had to wait for the airline to make alternative arrangements.

Luis Cardinal Tagle asked at a commissioning Mass for prayer for Turkish and French delegates, who have had their freedom severely curtailed over the past days.

Turkish Airlines looked after the group well and it eventually got off the ground on the following evening on a flight to Vienna.

The downside was a 12-hour stopover before boarding a connecting flight to Warsaw. 


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