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Abu Sayyaf abducts three Malaysians

MANILA (UCAN): Gunmen suspected to be from the Abu Sayyaf abducted three Malaysian fishermen off the coast of Semporna in Malaysia on September 10.

The Abu Sayyaf claims allegiance with the Islamic State and has been blamed for a series of kidnappings of Malaysian and Indonesian fishermen in the past months.

At least 20 foreign and Filipino hostages remain in the hands of the terrorist group in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

Philippine military spokesperson, Restituto Padilla, said they are still verifying the report about the latest abduction.

Last month, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia agreed to encourage the operationalisation of a standard operating procedure for maritime patrol.


Vatican signs agreement with Central African Republic

BANGUI (SE): A Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the Central African Republic on matters of mutual interest was signed in the presence of the head of the republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra, in Bangui on September 6.

Archbishop Franco Coppola, the apostolic nuncio, signed behalf of the Holy See, and Charles Armel Doubane, the minister for foreign affairs, on behalf of the Central African Republic, the Vatican Press Office reported.

The two parties maintain independence and autonomy, but undertake to collaborate in the interests of the moral, spiritual and material wellbeing of the human person and for the promotion of the common good.


Chinese pastor freed

HONG KONG (UCAN): Pastor Wen Xiaowu, from a House Church in Zhejiang province, has been released after four months in prison for gathering a crowd to disturb social order.

China Aid reported on September 12 that he was detained on April 25 with his wife, Xiang Lihua, and their eldest son, Wen Yidian.

They were arrested after they contacted Shanghai-based diplomatic officials from the United States of America and foreign journalists.

His family believes it was persistent, focussed and high-level pressure from the international community that gained his release.

He will do six months under residential surveillance.


Pope’s visit to 500th anniversary of Reformation

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis will leave Rome on October 31 to join the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Sweden.

He will fly to Malmo and travel on to Lund, where he will visit the Swedish royal family before joining an ecumenical prayer service with Lutheran clerics at the city’s cathedral.

In the afternoon he will return to Malmo for another ecumenical event, with various Christian communities.

On November 1, he will celebrate Mass in Malmo for the feast of All Saints, before returning to Rome.


Pope to visit Georgia and Azerbaijan

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis is set to visit Georgia and Azerbaijan from September 30 to October 2, the Vatican Press Office announced on September 12.

He will meet with His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II in Georgia and the Assyrian-Chaldean community, before celebrating Mass in the M. Meskhi Stadium and then meeting with social service workers.

He will take lunch with the Salesians in Azerbaijan and have a private meeting with the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus before taking part in an interreligious encounter with the representatives of the country’s other religious communities.


Two million in Mecca for hajj

MECCA (SE): Despite a ban on attending the hajj in Mecca by the government in Iran, because of political disagreements with Saudi Arabia, it is estimated that around two million people have descended on the holy place of Islam for the annual pilgrimage, The Associated Press reported on September 13.

The pilgrimage began on September 10, as pilgrims strove for physical and spiritual purity, circling the cube-shaped Kaaba with their palms facing upward in supplication and prayer.


Bogus priest in Iloilo

ILOILO (SE): A man travelling under the name of Father Cabrera has been identified as a bogus priest in Iloilo, The Philippines, Kicker News reported on September 14.

Claiming to be a Benedictine, his cover was blown when an old associate from his previous life recognised him and gave the game away .

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