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Archives on Argentine dictatorship to be opened

VATICAN (SE): The Vatican has completed the cataloguing and digitising of the archival material of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, the apostolic nunciature in Buenos Aires and the Vatican Secretariat of State in regard to the Argentine Military Dictatorship Period (1976 to 1983).

The bishops of Argentina met with the secretary of state and secretary for Relations with States on October 15 to assess the project.

A protocol is to be established that will make the documents accessible to the victims, immediate family of the disappeared and detained and, in the case of religious and Church personnel, their superiors.


No show judge in blasphemy case resigns

KARACHI (CWN): Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, the judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court who excused himself from hearing an appeal by Asia Bibi in a blasphemy case has resigned.

His no-show forced the appeal from the Catholic woman who is facing the death penalty to be postponed.

Bibi’s supporters questioned his late withdrawal and many believe he had been threatened by Islamist militants, who have demanded Bibi’s execution and denounced her appeals.

Bibi was arrested in 2009 and convicted despite the absence of evidence to support the charge against her.


Bangladesh choking non-government organisations

DHAKA (UCAN): Human Rights Watch says that Bangladesh should repeal a new law regulating civil society organisations accepting foreign funds.

The new law will subject non-governmental organisations to comprehensive and arbitrary government control over their activities, stifling their freedom and development potential. International donors that provide development assistance should publicly call for the repeal of the law.

The bill came into effect on October 13 and requires all foreign-funded organisations involved in development and human rights to submit virtually all activities for approval, without clear criteria for grounds for rejection or time frame for decisions to be made.


Papal preface

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis has written the preface to Non avere paura di perdonare, a biography of Father Luis Dri written by Andrea Tornielli and Alver Metalli.

The Argentine priest, born in the 1920s, was a Capuchin Franciscan known for his long hours spent hearing confessions.

In the preface, Pope Francis discussed the priest’s devotion to St. Leopold Mandic, another Capuchin who spent long hours in the confessional, and emphasised the importance of priests showing mercy in confession, in imitation of the father in the parable of the prodigal son.


Refugee deaths at sea way up

ROME (CNS): The number of migrants and refugees who die at sea while making the treacherous crossing from Africa to Europe is expected to reach an all-time high this year, the United Nations Refugee Agency claims.

The 3,740 lives have been lost so far this year. For the whole of 2015 the number lost was 3,771.

From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, this year the ratio looks like being one in 88. On the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy the likelihood of dying is even higher with one death for every 47 arrivals.

More arduous crossing routes and people smugglers are blamed for the rise in numbers.


Mosques monitored in Xinjiang

HONG KONG (SE): Over 300 officials have been sent to northwestern Xinjiang province to monitor mosques, Radio Free Asia reported.

State-run television announced that 352 cadres have been assigned to monitor mosques and religious activities.

Radio Free Asia was told by one villager, “We have six of them in our village. This morning they called a meeting and we met four of them. They are all Chinese. From what they said in the meeting, they will manage the imams of the mosques and they will conduct house-to-house visits to gain a grasp of the situation.”


Police interview Cardinal Pell

VATICAN (SE): Australian police flew to Rome in mid-October to interview George Cardinal Pell over charges related to sexual abuse.

Cardinal Pell is in charge of the Secretariat for the Economy and, police reported, “Voluntarily participated in an interview regarding allegations of sexual assault. As a result, further investigations are continuing.”

Police talked with the cardinal after making a preliminary investigation into charges brought by two men who said that he had treated them improperly more than 30 years ago.

Cardinal Pell has repeatedly and emphatically denied any impropriety.

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